Blaauwberg Nature Reserve given coveted award

Friends of the Blaauwberg Conservation Area member Roy Fuller-Gee.

Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has received a Green Coast Status award from the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA).

It’s the first coastal site in the country to get the newly created award.

At a flag-raising ceremony, at Eerste Steen in Melkbosstrand, on Friday September 14, the award was given to the Friends of the Blaauwberg Conservation Area (BCA) and the City’s environmental management department.

The award was created to challenge local government to do a better job of looking after sensitive coastal sites.

The Green Coast Status complements the international Blue Flag programme that recognises beaches with a high environmental and quality standards.

The coastal sites appeal to a specific sector of the tourism market, one looking for experiences in adventure, outdoor living and nature tourism along the coastline.

The Green Coast award would help to put the sites on the tourism map, said Wessa’s national coastal coordinator, Robert Slater.

The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve includes a 7km coastline with about 2 000 hectares of coastal landscape and endangered vegetation.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said he was pleased the reserve was setting the “green bar”.

“As the most biodiverse city in the world, we have a responsibility to conserve and protect this unique biodiversity.

“But we cannot do it alone,” he said.

“Valuable partnerships with local communities and organisations enable us to sustainably manage our precious fauna and flora, while also providing opportunities for environmental education, sustainable tourism and the empowerment of local communities,” said Mr Herron.

Roy Fuller-Gee, from the Friends of the Blaauwberg Conservation Area, said it was important to protect the reserve as endangered species, such as the African black oystercatcher, were found along the coast.

“It is great to receive recognition for all the hard work put in by the City and the community since the 1980s to conserve our natural and cultural heritage environment,” said Mr Fuller-Gee.

To keep the award, a log book of the criteria that must be met – including the running of eco tourism and environmental education programmes – will be reviewed annually by Wessa.

The Green Coast Zone will initially focus on conservation, sustainable tourism and environmental education along the 7km coastline.

At a later stage it will extend to include the dune field along the R27.