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WWF South Africa is delighted with the recent announcement that two key high-altitude grassland areas have been declared protected areas.
The MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Dr B M Radebe officially declared the 9251-hectare Pongola Bush Protected Environment and 1387-hectare Ncandu Private Forest and Grassland Reserve on November 19, 2013.
The declaration follows years of work with private landowners in partnership with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and provincial conservation authority (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife).
During the campaign, WWF also turned to social media to get members of the public to rally behind the project, gathering more than 2000 signatures of support that were presented to the MEC.
WWF South Africa Grasslands Programme Manager Angus Burns said: “Every person who put their name down directly contributed to the successful protection of these critically important water source areas.”
The resultant formal protection of these high altitude grassland areas is a direct contribution to national and provincial protected area expansion targets. It also secures key water source areas (such as the Pongola and Tugela river system headwaters).
Said Burns: “This will ensure that millions of downstream water users have access to a secure water supply in the future thereby enhancing economic development and job creation. Not only is the impact positive for food and water security but substantial conservation targets are achieved resulting in better protection and management of grassland habitat critical for the unique biodiversity located there.
“The declaration is thus a fitting tribute to the many landowners who had the foresight to formally commit to the protection of their land. Our grasslands work continues to gain momentum which is only achievable through the ongoing support of our partners, private and communal landowners and the general public.”