Conservation

THE WHEATBELT IMPORTANT BIRD AREA DEBATE

Posted on the 15th April 2011

(There is an interesting debate developing about the possible extention of the Wheatbelt IBA.  What do you think?  - Ed.)

Hello Keith,

Many thanks for this - sounds like you did a sterling job! I had guessed correctly about the N2, and it was a decision clearly made out of necessity....

I have been much involved in commenting on a multitude of wind farm proposals both in the Overberg and to a lesser extent on the West Coast. I have attached a very crude map I made up on the SANBI site showing the IBA and the various Overberg wind farms. My concern is that several (including one massive development) are to the north of the N2.

The ecology and agricultural practices are much the same to the north of the N2 as to the south and I would like to propose a simple northern extension of the Wheatbelt IBA between Riviersonderend and Bot Rivier - there are roads, including a section of the R406, which could easily act as new boundary lines.

Kind regards

Stuart

Stuart Shearer


Hi Stuart

Just a quick comment.

We have received a lot of “criticism” already about the size of this IBA and we feel some of these comments might be justified. To have an area as large as this as an IBA actually makes it unmanageable – how do you for instance upgrade the status of the land of such a large area? We have the same problem with the Grassland Biome IBA in Mpumalanga.

So it would be great if we in future can discuss these issues and maybe see if it would not be possible to delineate it into smaller more practical areas where we will target priority habitats or areas – areas where the most threatened species occur.

I also think we must be careful to expand an IBA in order to stop developments and for no other reason…IBAs need to comply with the relevant criteria.

By the way we will have a workshop about EIAs/IBAs and wind farm monitoring 24-26 June in Cape Town if you are interested to attend.

Thank you

Ernst F Retief



Hello Ernst,

Many thanks for your comments, which are well taken.

I wonder who has been critical of its size? I would have thought that its size is a reflection of the extent of this land usage with its associated changes in bird life, as well as low densities of many species of conservation interest. The Blue Cranes have in recent years been occurring and breeding more widely in the area that I have suggested as an extension and congregating more and more in the Bot Rivier area.

The intention is not to stop developments, but rather to heighten awareness of potential impacts in these areas when going through EIA processes. I had previously idly wondered about the boundary, but the sudden upsurge of proposed WEF developments in the Overberg made me think again. If the IBA complies with the criteria south of the N2, why should the same not apply north of the road to the mountains in the north?

Anton, Daniel, what do you think?

Best wishes

Stuart



 


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