The ever encroaching urbanization of the city has resulted in the False Bay Ecology Park being 'boxed' in on the East, North and West, as may be seen from the details below.
This has resulted in a very dense avian population being present in the Park as the the loss of water habitat on the Cape Flats and elsewhere forced the migration of water birds, in particular, to this region.
The resultant concentration is of significant regional, national and international importance.
In addition, this 'cramped, impacted' avian habitat has the distinction of containing the worlds highest concentration of threatened Red Data book species that are on the brink of extinction.
The National Botanical Institute has identified 36 core conservation sites, 3 of which are situated in the Park, that are necessary to ensure a continued bio-diversity level of 95%, for the Table Mountain Nature Reserve, one of the world's 6 plant kingdoms.
Further threats are the proposed construction of a tolled 6 lane dual highway, the R300, along the approximate alignment in green below.
This proposed construction will sever the FBEP into two pieces resulting in unsustainable genetic 'islands' for all the flora and fauna and further reduction of already scarce water bird habitat.
Associated environmental pollution in the form of light, noise, exhaust fumes and potential spillage will also impact.
Additionally, high mortality rates are to be expected of mammals, insects and birds that cross the roadway as these migrate between feeding and nesting areas.
Proposed R300 Toll Road.
The BLUE alignment approximates the route for the North R300 link.
The GREEN alignment approximates the route for the South R300 link through the FBEP.
Regional Ornithological Importance:
The park has 5 Species of water birds that exceed 30% of the total Western Cape population, while another 5 species exceed 50% of the total Western Cape population and 4 Species that represent 100% of the total Western Cape population.
The waste water settling ponds are also an essential feeding area for birds breeding at the quieter Rondevlei Nature Reserve, who then move between the two habitats, oftern during nightfall, for their survival.
National Ornithological Importance:
Research since 1953 identifies this site as being the 5th most important wetland Bird Area - IBA in South Africa.
It supports more birds, both in number and species, than Lake St Lucia which is approximately 350 times the area of Strandfontein, RAMSAR sites like De Hoop Vlei and Langebaan Lagoon.
16 Species account for 10% to 20% of the Total National Coastal Wetland population, while 5 Species account for 30% of the Total National Coastal Wetland population
100% of National Coastal Wetland Glossy Ibis population is reported to be present at this site.
The coastal strip is also an important breeding place for the Black Oyster Catcher, which is under threat in this area.
International Ornithological Importance:
The Strandfontein wetland system is an important migratory wader habitat, with Five (5) bird species having more than 1% of Global population resident.
Surveys between 1980 and 1990 revealed thirteen (13) species of water birds that exceeded 1000 in number.
Nine (9) Species included in South African Red Data Book have been recorded here.
The reed beds in the Waste Water Treatment Works are used for roosting by thousands of European Swallows that migrate here during the cold European winter months.
Rondevlei Nature Reserve:
A Managed Nature Reserve, it was established in 1952 and has grown in stature to the level of being a major destination for Local, National and International bird enthusiasts and tourists.
The reserve is home to 3 endemic and 9 endangered plant species, has 228 recorded bird species, 29 reptile species and the Cape's only hippopotamus population, currently consisting of 5 animals, which constitutes the maximum carrying capacity of this reserve,
The reserve is enclosed by dense urbanization on three sides with an outlet canal, some land area and the False Bay Ecology Park to the South.
This reserve's water catchment area includes water from the Cape Flats local aquifer and polluted urban storm water runoff from Princess Vlei, adjacent roadway hard surfaces and surrounding residential component giving rise to high levels of nutrient and sedimentation from these artificial inflows.
It is susceptible to additional pollution events to the storm water runoff, one such event caused some 6 million liters of raw sewage to be pumped into the reserve with resultant over loaded nutrient levels and environmental damage.
The reserve's only link in terms of genetic diversity to other areas of significance, like Wolfgat Reserve near Macassar or the Table Mountain Nature Reserve, is via the Cape Flats Waste Water Works to the South, and from there via a fragile Coastal Corridor of rather disturbed Strandveld habitat.
Visitors, of all ages, to the reserve make full use of its range of facilities supported by knowledgeable and helpful staff.
Zeekoeivlei Local Area Nature Reserve:
With an water area of approximately 225ha, it is the largest continuous water body in the FBEP and achieved Local Area Nature Reserve status in 2000.
The vlei is regarded as the final manifestation of one of the Cape Flats Aquifers with additional water flowing in from two man made drainage canals known as the Big and Small Lotus Rivers which drain large residential, horticultural and industrial areas situated to the North and East on the Cape Flats.
The main axis of the water body lies almost due North and South with a Peninsula jutting from the West shore in a North Easterly direction, tending to partially split the water area.
This results in two distinctly different water environments namely Home Bay and Stormy Bay where a variety of water activities are enjoyed.
The prevailing summer South Easterly winds that blow over False Bay are responsible for most of the aeration of the vlei's water and as such help to control some of the nutrient that arises from the Lotus Rivers and Cape Flats Waste Water Works.
The water body contains approximately 5 million cubic meters of water with an average depth if 1.9m, held back by a solid concrete weir that was constructed during the mid 40's, leading to a once dynamic system being turned into a static one.
It is estimated, from studies conducted, that approximately 35000 cubic meters of sediment and some 13500Kg of pure phosphate and nitrate resulting from human and horticultural run-off, per annum enters the vlei from the Lotus drainage rivers.
Big Lotus River
One of the catch fences installed, showing large amounts of trapped plastic, tyres, bottles and debris dumped into these canals from associated residential areas on the Cape Flats.
Little Lotus River
The annual draw down enables solid waste, that would otherwise have ended up in Zeekoeivlei, being cleared from the installed catch fences.
Little Lotus River
Ongoing environmental education is necessary to teach the population that solid waste, such as is seen here, is not disposed of into the canal system
of Cape Town.
The 7th Annual Draw Down - 2004
The previously solid weir has now
been altered by constructing 6 openings that permit an annual draw down to be effected by removing a series of stop blocks in these openings.
This allows the water level to drop by 1.2m and releases approximately 3 million of the estimated 5 million cubic meters in Zeekoeivlei.
Water overflowing the weir, at draw down, for the first time since the commencement of the annual draw down 6 years ago.
The released water flows down the outlet canal, here heavily infested with water Hyacinth,
to the sea in False Bay.
The False Bay Coastal Park Landfill:
Situated off Baden Powell Drive, West of the Zeekoeivlei outlet canal, it is currently being filled with refuse collected from the entire Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
To the North, it's buffer zone borders Rondevlei Nature Reserve, and to the West with the Capricorn Industrial Park.
The landfill is closely monitored and audited by the Department of Water Affairs for the disposal of toxic leachate and emission of methane gas which is typical of a sanitary landfill facility.
Recent changes in design to the original fill heights have resulted in the facility having an extended life and the potential for complimentary activities for the Park.
Zeekoeivlei Environmental Educational Programme (ZEEP), the largest education program in the Western Cape, which is currently being attended by approximately 12000 children per annum, includes the landfill site in their environmental educational course.
This organization is planning to increase their intake to approximately 26000 children per annum to meet the demand from Cape Town schools.
View East over the FBEP, from the land fill site, with some of the old settling ponds in the foreground and the waste water treatment plant beyond.
Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Ponds:
The Treatment Ponds originally consisted of two natural vlei systems, which were developed into the Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works.
These facilities have been upgraded significantly in recent years, making the reticulation ponds redundant, except as an emergency facility.
The upgraded facility has the capacity to handle the volume of the Big Lotus River but is incapable of removing the high Phosphate loading in this river that results from residential run off, inefficient sewerage collection from informal housing and the Philippi horticultural farming area.
This high Phosphate loading eventually finds its way into sea in False Bay via the outlet canal that handles overflow from the water bodies.
Additional enhancements are possible to upgrade the treatment plant that would then enable it to rectify this situation and treat the water before it reaches Zeekoeivlei or False Bay.
The reticulation ponds are ideal for fishing and provide excellent bird watching opportunities.
Blue/Green algae deposits
associated with seepage of nutrient rich water from the Waste Water Treatment Ponds that are approximately 3.5m above Zeekoeivlei.
The Draw Down reveals extensive seepage of nutrient rich water from the Waste Water Treatment Ponds into the Zeekoeivlei water body.
This seepage is responsible for approximately 35% of the nutrient load in this water body.
RAMSAR Facts: II - RAMSAR Site Criteria and Guidelines (Revised 1990)A wetland is identified as being of international importance if it meets at least one of the criteria set out below:
1. Criteria for representative or unique wetlands.
A wetland should be considered internationally important if:
a) it is a particularly good representative example of a natural or near-natural wetland, characteristic of the appropriate biogeographical region; - or
b) it is a particularly good representative example of a natural or near-natural wetland, common to more than one biogeographical region; - or
c) it is a particularly good representative example of a wetland, which plays a substantial hydrological, biological or ecological role in the natural functioning of a major river basin or coastal system, especially where it is located in a trans-border position; - or
d) it is an example of a specific type of wetland, rare or unusual in the appropriate biogeographical region.
2. General criteria based on plants and animals.
A wetland should be considered internationally important if:
a) it supports an appreciable assemblage of rare, vulnerable or endangered species or subspecies of plant or animal, or an appreciable number of individuals of any one or more of these species; - or
b) it is of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of a region because of the quality and peculiarities of its flora and fauna; - or
c) it is of special value as the habitat of plants or animals at a critical stage of their biological cycle; - or
d) it is of special value for one or more endemic plant or animal species or communities.
3. Specific criteria based on Waterfowl.
A wetland should be considered internationally important if:
a) it regularly supports 20,000 waterfowl; - or
b) it regularly supports substantial numbers of individuals from particular groups of waterfowl, indicative of wetland values, productivity or diversity; - or
c) where data on populations are available, it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterfowl.
Guidelines for Application of Criteria.
(a) A wetland could be considered of international importance under Criterion 1 if, because of its outstanding role in natural, biological, ecological or hydrological systems, it is of substantial value in supporting human communities dependent on the wetland. In this context, such support would include:
provision of food, fibre or fuel; - or maintenance of cultural values;
or support of food chains, water quality, flood control or climatic stability.
The support, in all aspects, should remain within the framework of sustainable use and habitat conservation, and should not change the ecological character of the wetland. - or
b) A wetland could be considered of international importance under Criterion 1, 2 or 3 if it conforms to additional guidelines developed at regional (e.g. Scandinavian or West African) or national level. Elaboration of such regional or national guidelines may be especially appropriate:
where particular groups of animals (other than waterfowl) or plants are considered more suitable as a basis for evaluation;
or where waterfowl and other animals do not occur in large concentrations (particularly in northern latitudes);
or where collection of data is difficult (particularly in very large countries). - or
(c) The "particular groups of waterfowl, indicative of wetland values, productivity or diversity" in Criterion 3(b) include any of the following:
loons or divers: Gaviidae; - grebes: Podicipedidae;
cormorants: Phalacrocoracidae; - pelicans: Pelecanidae;
herons, bitterns, storks, ibises and spoonbills: Ciconiiformes; - cranes: Gruidae;
swans, geese and ducks (wildfowl): Anatidae; - shorebirds or waders: Charadrii; and
wetland related raptors: Accipitriformes and Falconiformes; - terns: Sternidae. - or
(d) The specific criteria based on waterfowl numbers will apply to wetlands of varying size in different Contracting Parties. While it is impossible to give precise guidance on the size of an area in which these numbers may occur, wetlands identified as being of international importance under Criterion 3 should form an ecological unit, and may thus be made up of one big area or a group of smaller wetlands. Consideration may also be given to turnover of waterfowl at migration periods, so that a cumulative total is reached, if such data are available.
Classification System for "Wetland Type"
Marine and Coastal Wetlands:
1.Marine waters - permanent shallow waters less than six metres deep at low tide; includes sea bays, straits.
2.Sub tidal aquatic beds; includes kelp beds, sea-grasses, tropical marine meadows.
4.Rocky marine shores; includes rocky offshore islands, sea cliffs.
5.Sand, shingle or pebble beaches; includes sand bars, spits, sandy islets.
6.Estuarine waters; permanent waters of estuaries and estuarine systems of deltas.
7.Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats.
8.Intertidal marshes; includes salt marshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes, tidal brackish and freshwater marshes.
9.Intertidal forested wetlands; includes mangrove swamps, nipa swamps, tidal freshwater swamp forests.
10.Brackish to saline lagoons with one or more relatively narrow connections with the sea.
11.Freshwater lagoons and marshes in the coastal zone; includes delta lagoon and marsh systems.
1.Permanent rivers and streams; includes waterfalls.
2.Seasonal and irregular rivers and streams.
3.Inland deltas (permanent).
4.Riverine flood plains; includes river flats, flooded river basins, seasonally flooded grassland, savannah, and palm savannah.
5.Permanent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha); includes large oxbow lakes.
6.Seasonal freshwater lakes (over 8 ha), floodplain lakes.
7.Permanent and seasonal, brackish, saline or alkaline lakes, flats and marshes.
8.Permanent freshwater ponds (8 ha), marshes and swamps on inorganic soils; with emergent vegetation waterlogged for at least most of the growing season.
9.Seasonal freshwater ponds and marshes on inorganic soil; includes sloughs, potholes, seasonally flooded meadows, sedge marshes.
10.Shrub swamps; shrub-dominated freshwater marsh, shrub carse, alder thicket; on inorganic soils.
11.Freshwater swamp forest; seasonally flooded forest, wooded swamps; on inorganic soils.
12.Peat lands; shrub or open bogs, fens.
13.Forested peat lands; peat swamp forest.
14.Alpine and tundra wetlands; includes alpine meadows, tundra pools, temporary waters from snow melt.
15.Freshwater springs, oases.
1.Water storage areas; reservoirs, barrages, hydroelectric dams, impoundments (generally over 8 ha).
2.Ponds, including farm ponds, stock ponds, small tanks (generally below 8 ha).
3.Aquaculture ponds; fish ponds, shrimp ponds.
4.Salt exploitation; salt pans, salines.
5.Excavations; gravel pits, borrow pits, mining pools.
6.Waste water treatment; sewage farms, settling ponds, oxidation basins.
7.Irrigated land and irrigation channels; rice fields, canals, ditches.
8.Seasonally flooded arable land, farm land.