Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 January 2011
Source: Life on the vlei
Decades after conservationists called for the Verlorenvlei near Elands Bay on South Africa’s West Coast to be afforded formal conservation protection to preserve its biodiversity, this Ramsar site is still under threat. A local authority, Bergriver Municipality, has now taken action which could turn the years of environmental neglect around.
Will Verlorenvlei receive the legal environmental protection it deserves?
Twenty-five years ago conservationists called for private individuals, private enterprise, and relevant official bodies to ensure that Verlorenvlei and its multiple resources are given formal conservation status protection as soon as possible.
This was in response to the first full-scale study of the wetland system which was published by the CSIR in 1986. The report quotes Prof. John Parkington, who points out that archaeological artifacts suggest that humans have been in the Verlorenvlei area, more or less continuously, for more than 100 000 years. With few situations in sub-Saharan Africa where the potential for prehistoric reconstruction over such a period is so promising, and no other locality along the Western Cape coast with such potential, he states that it is imperative the promise is not squandered by the lack of conservation measures.
Fresh water is the biggest concern
Now, a quarter of a century later, the Verlorenvlei is decidedly under threat. Its unique archaeological treasures, its populations of fish, birds, animals and plants and its function as water purification filter and breeding ground for a significant number of species, are battling the impacts which human populations bring.
Perhaps more significantly, the Vlei is incontrovertibly linked to the Sandveld’s complex network of aquifers. Consequently, the environmental neglect of the Vlei is also posing a hazard to the availability of potable water. Experts in freshwater studies have been expressing concern about the quality and quantity of water in Verlorenvlei since the first full-scale study of the Verlorenvlei estuary was published in 1986.
Despite its status as an internationally recognised Ramsar wetland, it is an anomaly that this recognition of its significance as a biodiversity hotspot still affords it no formal legal conservation status under South African law. Continue reading