Cape’s growing conservation jigsaw

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iol scitech april 24 Glencairn

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The latest 'missing' piece to be added is a 30.6ha section of Erf 60 at Glencairn, adjoining Glencairn Heights above the Glencairn Expressway. Picture Mxolisi Madela

Cape Town - Another piece has been added to the Cape Peninsula’s conservation jigsaw, bringing it closer to the goal of having 28 400ha conserved in the Table Mountain National Park and Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site.

The latest “missing” piece to be added is a 30.6ha section of Erf 60 at Glencairn, adjoining Glencairn Heights above the Glencairn Expressway, which has been contracted in perpetuity to the park by the Gordon’s Missionary Society.

It will help consolidate the Brakkloofrant section of the park between Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Stonehaven Estate in the west near Kommetjie Road.

In 2010, the provincial government refused an application to build 65 middle- to high-income houses on the property, saying the potential development benefits would be minimal compared with the negative affects on the natural environment.

A small part of Erf 60 lies below the expressway and houses the Gordon’s camp, which the society uses for recreational purposes for previously disadvantaged people and, in particular, underprivileged children.

It is part of the 300ha Glencairn Youth Camp, bequeathed jointly to the missionary society and Rotary by a one-time SACS physical education teacher, William Haines, in 1942.

At a ceremony at a Glencairn hotel last week to mark the signing of the contract, park manager Paddy Gordon described the property as “really conservation-worthy land” that the park had been interested in for more than a decade.

Cape Town was one of four major cities bordered by national parks – the others are Mumbai, Nairobi and Rio de Janeiro – where remaining natural areas were subjected to particular urban and developmental pressures. But people needed open spaces for recreation, and the Table Mountain National Park also conserved unique fynbos vegetation, he added.

“The bottom line is that it (fynbos) is extremely important on a global scale, and protecting it is a high concern of ours and of the people of Cape Town. We have this heritage that we have to protect.”

Although SA National Parks was not against property development, “every now and then a piece of land is so special that it needs to be protected in perpetuity”.

The land would be accessible to people for recreation and would be a source of job opportunities through the clearing of alien vegetation.

Richard Totos, the chairman of the trustees of the Gordon’s Missionary Society, explained that current trustees were not elected but were the children of the original trustees, who had all been ex-servicemen returning from World War II and who had maintained the camp using their own resources.

Gordon’s had originally been a big recreational organisation, but now only committee members were left.

Financial pressures had prompted the trustees to hand over the section of Erf 60 to the national park, he said. Clearing of alien vegetation on the property had cost the society R381 000 between 2007 and 2012.

The park’s mandate is to conserve 28 400ha of the peninsula, and it is now more than 85 percent of the way to achieving that target. - Cape Argus

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