Following the 2017 Knysna wildfires, the founding of Coastal Fynbos reserves is now a possibility
9 June 2020
As the Southern Cape commemorates the 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster, funding is sought for the establishment of two new Coastal Fynbos nature reserves near Brenton and Plettenberg Bay.
Unbridled development, intensive farming on the coastal plateau, unchecked invasive plant encroachment and climate change have driven the conservation of biodiversity in the Southern Cape to the brink of extinction.
Coastal Fynbos in the Southern Cape has now reached the threshold of being critically endangered, and the 2017 wildfire disaster just proved how fragile its mere existence has become. The fire came close to wiping out the well-known endemic habitat of the Brenton Blue butterfly, but that accounts also for the small number of isolated sites of what remains of Coastal Fynbos habitat.
Following the 2017 wildfire, much effort has been made to prevent invasive alien plants to dominate areas where Fynbos remains. However, many of these areas are situated on private land that is inaccessible to the public, small in scale and facing an uncertain future in terms of resources for long-term environmental management to the benefit of biodiversity conservation.
Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, NGOs and local authorities identified two pristine Coastal Fynbos sites near Brenton and Plettenberg Bay that are ideally suited for the conservation of Coastal Fynbos, and are now looking for co-funding to ensure the areas receive protected status, are managed for conservation purposes, and are protected from future development.
As most examples of Coastal Fynbos are situated on inaccessible private land, the proposed reserves will allow access to the public to witness the splendour of what remains of Coastal Fynbos in the Southern Cape, create more experiences for tourists and tour operators, and create much-needed job opportunities post COVID-19 when the tourist and hospitality sector is bound to recover.
Entities wanting to participate in the drive to enlarge the Coastal Fynbos footprint are welcome to send an email to Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), firstname.lastname@example.org.
** The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform and think tank for landowners and land managers with an interest in invasive alien plant management, water stewardship and land management.