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Conservation issues

As stated in the Mangaung Local Municipality – Urban Open Spaces Framework, point 3.1.1.2 page 12:

  • The natural flow of water over any public open space may not be obstructed by any means (e.g. groundworks, surface pollution, illegal occupation etc.);
  • The natural migrations of wild fauna and flora within an urban open space system will be encouraged and may not be obstructed through land redevelopment without sufficient mitigation actions.

The current housing developments to the south and east of Seven Dams Conservancy ignore both these points in the Policy. There is no reason to assume that proposed developments to the east on Bayswater 2868 and Lilyvale 2313 will be any different. Additionally, due to the topography, the major water system that feeds all the seven dams, is drained to the east on Bayswater 2868. Any construction on this land to the top of the catchment contour line (Figure 2.1) will immediately and permanently affect Seven Dams Conservancy, the landowners and SANBI Bloemfontein Botanical Garden. The sewer line which runs in and very close to the stream in Bayswater 2865 regularly overflows after heavy rain, spilling raw sewage into the stream which then pollutes the dams and other water ways down stream (e.g. personal observation in February 2008, phone call from Dr. Gouws complaining of pollution 2008). This is in contradiction to the engineers’ reports on the capacity of the sewer line to handle the volume of liquid. This report is attached to the Scoping report for the proposed development of Bayswater 2865. This system is unable to cope with the present strain put on it without any further development as proposed by the plans for the area. Photos documenting this and e-mails to the Municipality are attached in Appendix 18.

Site visits to current and adjacent housing developments all show the complete and absolute eradication of all existing indigenous plants and their community associations. This housing development also destroys the bedrock by extensive excavation and use of explosives. Bulldozers remove the topsoil to bedrock and expose extensive totally barren areas. These are immediate sources of wind erosion with additional loss of soil by washing away by rain and runoff water from adjacent house gardens and sewerage systems. Alien invasive weeds rapidly colonise the exposed areas and establish extensive settlements. Once construction of the houses is completed, the resulting vegetation planted is almost exclusively exotic and, requires watering and irrigation systems, which strain existing scarce drinking water. The housing developers usually replace indigenous plants with cultivated exotics. Lawns are often established using the pervasive and invasive exotic Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) which also requires constant watering and mowing.

Recommendations given in Environmental Impact Reports of surrounding areas are never adhered to (e.g. Somerton at present). This is also the result of the total lack of supervision of heavy machine operators as well as the need for suitable training and education of workers, housing developers, architects and urban town planners. The current mentality is one of expediency where it is easier to completely destroy all plants and the associated habitats and replace them with an alien and completely new environment.

It would show sound ecological ethics and environmental conservation morals to have as part of housing developments a mandatory indigenous re-plant scheme. This should be viewed as part of the built-in environmental cost of development.

A suitable environmental landscape gardening management plan could be established to provide guidelines as how to replant, both in gardens and along streets. There are numerous nurseries in Bloemfontein as well as the Botanical Garden, which cultivate indigenous plants. Mandated replanting with indigenous plants would have the added economic benefit to the nurseries of increasing sales and generating more revenue. There would also be an educational component for the citizens of Bloemfontein who would become aware of the richness of their indigenous and unique plants.



A key conservation issue

  • Any construction on the land to the top of the catchment contour line will immediately and permanently affect Seven Dams Conservancy, the landowners and SANBI Bloemfontein Botanical Garden.



A possible solution

  • It would show sound ecological ethics and environmental conservation morals to have as part of housing developments a mandatory indigenous re-plant scheme. This should be viewed as part of the built-in environmental cost of development.