Conservation

CONSERVATION REPORT TO THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM

Posted on the 10th June 2014

Western Cape Regional Conservation Programme:
Western Cape Birding Forum Update
Regional Conservation and IBA Programme Progress Report
The Western Cape Regional Conservation Programme has experienced good progress in first half of 2014.
IBA Assessments:
Dale has now completed field work for the IBA Assessments of all of the Western Cape IBAs and is dealing with comments and finalizing drafts for the 23 IBAs. The assessment data on threats and conservation action will be combined with information on the IBA trigger species for an IBA prioritization exercise.
A total of five IBA Assessments have been completed for the Eastern Cape, and a further three have field work planned for June 2014. This will take the total completed by Dale to 73% of the Eastern Cape IBAs.
The RCM is planning to do a prioritization exercise for the IBAs across the Province to guide further conservation action and for a presentation at this year’s Fynbos Forum conference (Knysna – August 2014). There are a number of boundary revision planned for IBAs across the Province, which will be undertaken with stakeholder input during the latter half of 2014.
All IBA directory webpages have now been updated and these reflect improved information for each IBA gained after completing assessments.


Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project:
Samantha Schroder was appointed as the Project Manager and began work on 1 February 2014. The project has progressed well; the initial work focused on making contact and introducing the project to the relevant partners and stakeholders in the project domain. Samantha has now contacted all land owners in the Moutonshoek valley, and presented this stewardship site to the CapeNature Biodiversity Stewardship Reference Group. The Group gave approval for seeking Protected Environment status for the area. The next step in this process is the establishment of a Land owners association and signing of “intent to declare” forms. Samantha has also begun drafting a “Land owner needs analysis” for the Verlorenvlei estuary area, in order to better understand the perceptions of farmers around the estuary, as well as assisting on the Verlorenvlei Estuary Management Forum. The first progress report was provided to the WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust in May 2014.


False Bay Ecology Park IBA:
The funding proposal for FBEP has been completed, including a professional video and presentation. The RCM approached the Melomed group and a successful first meeting and presentation was held in March 2014. The partners are currently developing a follow-up funding proposal for Melomed based on initial discussions.
A presentation was also done for the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA -Cape Town office) in May 2014. This was positively received, and there is strong value alignment with ACSA and the project’s vision. The partners will also be pursuing this potential partnership, particularly for the Skills Development component of the FBEP Project.
A second proposal for tourism infrastructure developments at the Strandfontein Birding Area and other parts of FBEP has been drafted and submitted to the National Department of Tourism.
The second annual FBEP Fun Walk was held on 12 April 2014. This event attracted 430 participants, approximately double the previous year. The Festival component expanded to include a fire safety demonstration, Zibi recycling show, and reptile and bird encounters. John Dory’s once again provided a Fish n Chip lunch sponsorship and has indicated their support for 2015.
The RCM is co-supervising a University of Cape Town Masters in Conservation Biology student, on a project investigating the community perceptions of the FBEP IBA with a plan to inform the management of the Reserve to better meet the communities’ needs.


Local Conservation Groups (LCGs):
The Bitou Valley Local Conservation Group has continued to function effectively under the guidance of Dr Mark Brown. The activities undertaken by the group include;

  • Initiating a project for the development of a Plett birding route and associated infrastructure (hides)
  • A birding “Masters and Champions” programme which engages interested children in birding mentoring to further develop their passion
  • Collecting the data necessary for the expansion of the Tsitsikamma IBA to include Keurbooms and Robberg peninsulas
  • Scientific research and public awareness work at the Keurbooms Kelp Gull colony

The BirdLife Eastern Cape Local Conservation Group has been established for the Maitland-Gamtoos coast IBA. The group has started a new monitoring project involving quarterly counts of birds at the Maitland mouth to establish bird numbers.
Dale once again reiterates that all interested bird clubs, who would like to establish an LCG in their area with their club, please contact Dale for further information. These LCGs are flexible and the RCM will work with the bird clubs to develop a LCG which suits their constraints and capacity.


Regional conservation publications:
BirdLife South Africa is contributing funding and technical input to an information booklet for farmers in the Overberg. This booklet will educate farmers on the important fauna and flora of the region, and also appropriate land management practices to improve the landscape for biodiversity. This project is in partnership with the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust.
BirdLife South Africa is also contributing funding and technical input a “Water bird habitat for farm dam’s guideline” document, being developed by Nature Conservation Corporation and other partners. The document will focus primarily on creating habitat for the Rallids and Ducks, and will be a hands-on guideline for farmers wishing to create such habitat at their farm dams.


Funding:
The RCM has been investigating further funding for two major projects; namely an Estuary stewardship initiative targeting the Lower Berg River Wetlands IBA and the Bot and Kleinmond Estuary IBA, as well as an environmental and socio-economic development project targeting the Verlorenvlei Estuary and surrounds.
Dale is also providing input on a Fynbos Endemic bird’s conservation project proposal and a West Coast District Municipality Estuary Conservation Officer proposal, both for the Table Mountain Fund.
The RCM has provided all his Programme funders with adequate progress reports to date, and the Rupert Nature Foundation, Table Mountain Fund and WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust are pleased with the progress of the Regional Conservation Programme.


Marketing of the IBA Programme and BirdLife South Africa:
The RCM has continued to provide public presentations and write popular articles for further awareness raising.
The RCM has conducted two radio interviews during 2014, dealing with the Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project media release and the False Bay Ecology Park Fun Walk.
The Somerset West bird club has generously agreed to fund an IBA signboard at Helderberg Nature Reserve in the Boland Mountains IBA, which will soon be finalized and erected. Dale would like to call on all Western Cape bird clubs to consider supporting this project, and assisting to raise awareness about our IBAs, birds and the bird clubs and other organizations working to conserve them. All interested chairmen must please contact the RCM to discuss further.
In addition to the above items the RCM has commented on a large number of development applications across the Western Cape, continues to attend relevant forum meetings and provide necessary comments, and maintain existing partnerships. Dale also assists Samantha Ralston with relevant information pertaining to Wind Energy Facilities as required.
Currently Dale sits on the following forums and committees, representing BLSA or providing input on bird conservation related matters;

  • Western Cape Birding Forum
  • BLSA Western Cape Regional Conservation Committee
  • BLSA IBA National Steering Committee
  • CAPE (Cape Action for People and the Environment) Implementation Committee
  • False Bay Ecology Park Steering Committee
  • Overberg Crane Group Steering Committee
  • West Coast District Municipal Coastal Committee
  • Verlorenvlei Estuary Management Forum
  • Cape Invasive Animals Forum
  • Western Cape Wetlands Forum
  • West Coast National Park Forum

Dale Wright

 


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