Intaka Island comes of age

A malachite kingfisher photographed by Riaan Visser at Intaka Island was used on the cover of the coffee table book.

Intaka Island, considered the jewel in the crown of Century City, celebrated its 21st birthday on Thursday September 28.

At a function held at Intaka Island Eco-Centre to commemorate the milestone, Paul Lochner, chairperson of the Intaka Island Blouvlei Environmental Committee, said Century City had truly become a prime example of how the built and natural environments could co-exist in harmony.

Intaka Island started life as a degraded wetlands area known as Sewe Pannetjies.

Before development of Century City started in 1997, an environmental impact assessment was done and 16ha of the 250ha site were retained as a wetlands nature reserve – Intaka Island was born.

Half of the site was kept as seasonal or ephemeral pans and the other 8ha was transformed into a man-made wetland which acts as a natural purification system for the water in Century City’s 8km of canals.

Mr Lochner said what had started out as intense friction between the various parties had become an example of collaboration among developers, civil society and government.

“This huge success story is thanks to the developer and the Century City Property Owners’ Association (CCPOA) embracing their commitments to the natural environment and working closely with the Intaka Island Blouvlei Environmental Committee.

“It also shows how science and continuous learning has enabled unexpected challenges to be resolved and how a degraded vlei that was seen as an impediment for development has led to water becoming a signature feature of Century City,” said Mr Lochner.

The CCPOA is the non-profit company responsible for the day to day operations of Century City, which is now home to more than 500 businesses and 4000 residences.

The association’s CEO, Chris Blackshaw, said they were indebted to all those who had contributed to the success of Intaka Island.

“In particular our thanks go to five members of the Intaka Island Blouvlei Environmental Committee who have served since inception or shortly thereafter.

Paul Lochner, Dr Clive McDowell, Pat Titmus and Dr Tony Williams have all served on the committee for 21 years and Margaret Maciver for 20 years. This longevity of service must be something of a record,” said Mr Blackshaw.

A glossy, commemorative coffee table book covering the history of Intaka, the eco-centre’s environmental education programmes and the flora, fauna and birdlife on Intaka has been published.

The book includes some spectacular pictures taken by the public over the years. A limited number of copies is available for sale at the Intaka Island Eco-Centre.