The Seven Dams Conservancy is owned by Mangaung Local Municipality (MLM). It was originally a farm owned by an Australian, Tommy Griffiths, and his South African wife, Madge. The farm was sold to the municipality of Bloemfontein in the late 1980s. It was gazetted by the Municipality as a Conservancy in September, 1997. However, a little under one third of the area was sold to developers in about 2002. This is the land where the Seven Dams Retirement Village, and the townhouse developments – Rusticana, Fluenta and Monte Video are now sited.
Since that time, the Municipality has gained an environmental management section and there has been work on developing policies around urban open spaces such as the Urban Open Space Policy and Framework, the Spatial Development Framework and the Integrated Environmental Management Plan which were developed in 2004/2005. The Urban Open Space Policy says that every citizen has the right to public open spaces that are easily accessible. The Seven Dams Conservancy is a category 1 conservancy as designated in the Mangaung IDP 2008/2009 (page 4) and also is category 1 land as per Mangaung’s Urban Space Policy.
In 2008 the Municipality funded an independent management plan for the Seven Dams Conservancy. This was carried out by a Conservation Ecologist with the support of the National Museum and gives a wealth of information about the ecology and archeology of the area as well as current uses, views of stakeholders, and a vision for the next 20 years.
The plan also lays out detailed plans to protect the area, safeguard its ecology, develop facilities and increase usage by the public over the next 5 years.
A vision for the Seven Dams Conservancy
Bloemfontein is developing fast to the north. The Seven Dams Conservancy will become an even more important place for relaxation, as Central Park is in New York, or Emmarentia in Joburg. Such parks, on prime land, were created and sustained by the foresight of citizens who fought the pressure for development. Let us do the same for Bloemfontein.
The vision for this area, building on a public participation process that was carried out in 2007, is:
By 2027 the 7 Dams is a model Conservancy, green, with diverse areas of grassland, water and wetland, an integral part of a Mangaung-wide urban ecosystem, with a varied range of facilities including wild and less wild areas, a diverse and involved community, and widely recognised in Mangaung as a key area for eco-friendly recreation.