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Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership

The Riverlands - Pella Protected Area Expansion Initiative now referred to as the The Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership (DCCP) - is gaining momentum.

The Riverlands - Pella Protected Area Expansion Initiative now referred to as the The Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership (DCCP) - is gaining momentum. This a joint initiative and partnership between the City of Cape Town, CapeNature, WWF, Table Mountain Fund, Wilderness Foundation, Cape West Coast Biosphere, SANParks and SANBI. This proposed conservation area is highlighted as a priority in CapeNature’s Provincial Protected Area Expansion Strategy as well as the 2010 WWF Table Mountain Fund Climate Change Corridor identification process for the Western Cape.

The area is prioritised on the basis of having extremely high biodiversity value, and requiring urgent action in order to prevent the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity. The properties identified encompass some of the most extensive endangered lowland habitat within the Western Cape.

This area is also the last relatively intact and ecologically functional area of critically endangered and poorly protected (at ca. 2%) Atlantis Sand Fynbos, and includes critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld and Swartland Granite Renosterveld habitat. Furthermore the existing CapeNature Provincial Nature Reserves and adjacent areas are known to be a localised hotspot of highly threatened and narrowly endemic plant species. Both these reserves are small: being 1,112 and 600 hectares respectively. There is considerable risk that they would suffer severe on-going degradation and the extinction of multiple species if adjacent habitat was lost, particularly as these are naturally fire-driven systems.

Apart from the unique biodiversity present, this area is also critical for Cape Town’s water security as it falls within the Witzands Aquifer protection zone. This aquifer currently supplies 40% of the water supplying Atlantis. The capital costs of replacing this water, should the aquifer become degraded, is estimated to be R300 million to build new pipe lines and pump stations or R800 million to build a desalination plant. The value of the aquifer as “natural infrastructure” is therefore considerable.

Furthermore this area is an excellent locality for skills development projects and economic opportunities. Alien clearing alone can create at least 450 000 person days for the initial three years. Several recreation and tourism activities already take place in the area and can be built on (e.g. Mamre Heritage and Wild Flower show). The area also lends itself to numerous potential recreation and tourism activities (including a possible site to reintroduce game such as Eland and Red Hartebeest) with its close proximity to Cape Town.

To date three landowners have agreed to sign perpetuity conservation agreements under the Partnership's Stewardship project, immediately adjacent and linking to Riverlands Nature Reserve and Pella Research Station. These properties will be gazetted as contract Nature Reserves, adding over 600ha of critically endangered vegetation to the corridor, thus securing the starting point of the corridor and increasing the viability of Riverlands/Pella Nature Reserve. The City is also currently proclaiming 1700 ha of the Witzands Nature Reserve which will form the focus of the coastal node. Working for Water funding has been obtained for both Dassenberg and Witzands and teams are being trained and will be in place in the near future.

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