WWF appalled at plans to mine in endangered area

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 February 2010

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is appalled at a state-owned mining company application to prospect on a number of landmark wine farms in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch municipal areas. This is the latest example of a proliferation of poorly regulated prospecting activities within highly threatened yet unique biodiversity hotspots.

“The Cape Floral Kingdom – the world’s smallest and most diverse plant kingdom – is an international conservation priority with World Heritage status. Within this region the most threatened habitat is the renosterveld, of which less than 4% remains. The Tygerberg and Bottelary Hills contain some of the last remnants of this vegetation and it is here that African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation wishes to mine,” says Inge Kotze, Project Coordinator of WWF’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative.

“The South African wine industry enjoys global recognition as a forerunner in merging conservation efforts and sound environmental practices with wine production. Nationally, this industry is the first to collectively recognise and support the conservation of highly endangered habitats while adopting environmentally responsible farming practices within their production.”

“It is tragically ironic that an application to decimate biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot would be put forward during the International Year of Biodiversity. This is also the year in which we proudly showcase the natural splendour of the Cape Winelands to the world during the World Cup in an effort to promote wine tourism as one of the fastest growing economic drivers within the Western Cape” said Kotze.

The areas concerned all form part of landowner conservancies, established by leading wine farmers to conserve and promote awareness of the unique biodiversity in the region. These landowners have invested significantly in removing invasive vegetation and rehabilitating the area for the last decade, and were among the first to be recognized as Biodiversity & Wine members.

The state-owned mining company has applied for rights to prospect for tin, zinc, lead, lithium, copper, manganese and silver with an aim to re-open mines that were closed decades ago.

“Not only would mining in this area have a massive impact on the conservation of biodiversity, but it would also have major economic impacts on the booming wine tourism in the region, along with significant job losses on wine farms,” Kotze concluded.

Source: WWF

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