Green Coast Status
Through collaborative efforts between the Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area, City of Cape Town and the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve team, the successful application and award of Green Coast status was achieved in September 2018 – the first ever WESSA Green Coast site.
The Green Coast award has been developed by WESSA to recognise those sensitive coastal sites that are managed according to standardised criteria and are able to maintain a consistent improvement of conditions at the site. The Green Coast award focuses on three main coastal themes, namely: sensitive habitats, sensitive species and cultural heritage. The award has been developed in a way that will allow for adequate monitoring and protection of the site, whilst also allowing for the development of low impact coastal tourism, should there be potential for this. The vision for the Green Coast award process is that a local organisation/s will partner with the local municipality in helping to apply for and sustain the award which will be made on an annual basis.
The award aims to:
- Encourage civil society involvement in conservation management
- Decrease pressure on local governments
- Promote sustainable tourism activities
- Encourage the effective management of sensitive coastline
- Increase and award effective conservation efforts
- Conserve and monitor aspects of the coast.
WESSA Green Coast - The Future of Coastal Management in
South Africa is blessed with an incredibly diverse coastline that stretches over 2,500 kilometres from our border with Namibia in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. The coastline boasts around 200 swimming beaches, 24 Marine Protected Areas and 3 World Heritage Sites.
Building civil society and local government partnerships is one of the key to effective coastal conservation and effective management of sensitive coastal areas. Partnerships need to be formed whereby the coastal communities/organisations are uplifted and given a responsibility towards management and monitoring their stretch of coastal space. This is the idea behind the Green Coast award and the future of coastal conservation. The Green Coast award creates a platform for effective species, habitat and cultural heritage monitoring and environmental awareness through formalised partnerships between local governments and community groups.
The future of our coastline lies in the hands of the people that live and make use of the sensitive coastal spaces. We cannot just rely on the government to manage our coastline. We need to empower civil society to take ownership of our natural resources for future generations. Green Coast award achieves this by taking pressure off local governments and by putting the responsibility onto the people that live and directly impact the sensitive coastal areas. meeting the award criteria gives people a sense of ownership and achievement and ultimately protects and conserves sensitive species, habitat and cultural heritage.
To know more about the Green Coast award and how to apply for it go to https://wessa.org.za/what-we-do/ecotourism2/green-coast/.
Every 3rd Saturday of September is International Coastal Clean-up day. After lock-down in 2020, this occasion received new focus as everyone wanted to get outdoors, and felt a clean-up was desperately needed. The City of Cape Town’s Blaauwberg Nature Reserve staff initiated the 2020 Coastal Clean-up project and the area earmarked was the 8km stretch between Melkbosstrand and Bloubergstrand. The week of 14 Sep was set aside for the clean-up, with a different area tackled every day. 164 participants arrived over the 5 days, and 196 bags of litter was collected over the 6 days. Two bags’ contents were analysed each day as a sample, and the feedback published on the FoBCA facebook page. The project was so successful that it was decided to continue with it on a monthly basis. The second wave lockdown in 2021 put a temporary damper to further clean-ups, however support projects could continue, such as testing litter pickers, building a database of volunteer participants, forging relationships with key bodies in the area etc.
After the International Coastal Clean-up, the one of the senior officers of the Reserve presented the results to key parties in October – it can be viewed pdf here (6.30 MB) . The presentation contains some interesting global statistics, as well as the surprising items found in such a clean-up.
Blaauwberg Nature Reserve’s coastline first in the country to go ‘Green’
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South Africa’s first Green Coast Status has been awarded today to the City of Cape Town’s Blaauwberg Nature Reserve in recognition of our commitment to preserving the unique flora and fauna along its coastline. In light of this achievement, the City’s Environmental Management Department and its implementing partner, the Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area organisation, will continue to actively monitor, maintain and ensure the accessibility of this coastline while providing opportunities for environmental education, sustainable tourism and the empowerment of local communities.
The City of Cape Town’s Blaauwberg Nature Reserve is at the heart of the first Green Coast Status that was awarded to a coastal site in South Africa. The nature reserve is situated in an area that includes approximately 2 000 hectares of pristine coastal landscape, is home to critically endangered vegetation and boasts a 7 km coastline.
The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), the national implementer for the Green Coast Programme, presented the first official Green Coast Status flag to the City’s Environmental Management Department (EMD) and its implementing partner, the Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area, during a special ceremony today in recognition of our commitment to preserving the unique flora and fauna along the reserve’s coastline.
The Green Coast Status complements the International Blue Flag programme as it allows municipalities to sustainably manage coastal sites outside of traditionally developed swimming beaches.
The Green Coast Zone will initially focus on conservation, sustainable tourism and environmental education along the 7 km of the coastline. It will thereafter be extended to include the dune field along the R27, which already has an established 4 km hiking trail.
More than 200 plant species have been identified and located in this 7 km section during extensive studies undertaken by volunteers from Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW). The Coastal Walk Flower Guide contains photographs and descriptions of the various flowers that visitors can see when walking the Coastal Dune Trail, depending on the season. The guide is for sale to the public but is available for free to schools for educational purposes.
‘Today we can proudly say that Blaauwberg Nature Reserve is the first coastline in the country to go “Green”. I am pleased that we have set the “Green” bar. It is an amazing honour to receive this achievement. We want to thank Wessa for recognising the hard work, effort and passion of people in our Environmental Management Department and the Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area organisation who is partnering with us.
‘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. 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 Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development.
WESSA developed the Green Coast award to recognise rural coastal sites that are managed according to standardised criteria and are able to maintain a consistent improvement of conditions at the site. Green Coast sites aim to protect at least one of three main coastal themes, namely: sensitive habitats, sensitive species and cultural heritage.
‘The WESSA Green Coast Programme aims to empower local communities through incentivising effective conservation and environmental education initiatives. The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has shown ongoing commitment to conserving and monitoring its sensitive coastal areas and has maintained the high standard set out by the WESSA Green Coast criteria,’ said Robert Slater, WESSA’s National Coastal Coordinator.
WESSA will review the status annually.
The Blaauwberg Hill at the nature reserve is one of the few viewpoints in the world from where you can see two proclaimed World Heritage Sites, namely, Table Mountain and Robben Island.
‘The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve coastal strip is unique as it contains some of the most diverse fauna and flora. It also embraces the values and aims of a Green Coast site which include cultural heritage value, environmental education and awareness programmes as well as the promotion of sustainable ecotourism.
‘This award has certainly put our beautiful coastline on the tourism map and we are looking forward to welcoming more visitors to our nature reserve who are looking for experiences in adventure, outdoor living and ecotourism along our coastline.
‘The City cannot uphold the Green Coast Status on our own. We need the support of our communities and organisations to ensure the success of the Green Coast Programme. We think particularly of our next generation of nature enthusiasts. There are opportunities for our schools to participate in our Green Coast Environmental Education Programme that will be hosted in partnership with the Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) Training Academy, which will provide young people with the opportunity to learn about nature and science in a fun and interactive outdoor classroom environment. I encourage our schools to make use of these opportunities.
‘Today we are all here to celebrate this recognition. Let’s continue to work together to protect and conserve our fauna and flora. We look forward to celebrating more of these awards in future,’ said Councillor Herron.