Posted on the 29th September 2014

Knersvlakte Nature Reserve declared
26 Fri, Sep 2014
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) South Africa, CapeNature and the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust have announced that the Knersvlakte region in the Western Cape has been added to the national network of protected areas, declaring it the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve.
The Knersvlakte, about a three-hour drive north of Cape Town, has long been recognised as a priority region for plant conservation. The reserve has been proclaimed in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act. 
The new 85 500-hectare reserve falls within the Succulent Karoo region. Located north of the Olifants River, it stretches from Klawer to just south of Kliprand in the Western Cape and Northern Cape respectively. 
The Knersvlakte is known for its characteristic white quartzite gravel that conceals unique vegetation, including rare dwarf succulent plants with an indomitable instinct for survival. 
There are about 1 500 plant species, with 190 endemic species, of which 155 are threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red-list of species in the area. Experts say some of these plants are extremely vulnerable to climate change.
Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa, said: “We are celebrating an extremely vital moment in our country’s conservation history by protecting this seemingly desolate, largely under-appreciated area. This land holds immense biodiversity, and its plants have adapted to the arid hot climate making them beautifully unique.”
Gail Cleaver-Christie, CapeNature’s Executive Director of Conservation Management, said: “This is a truly wonderful achievement for conservation in South Africa. The diversity and high numbers of endemic plant species (in the reserve) make the Knersvlakte a region of international importance with research being done by both local and international botanists. In the last five years, the number of known endemic plant species has increased from 138 to 186, which is an indicator of active research and interest in the Knersvlakte. New species are still being discovered.” 
The reserve area is owned by WWF-SA through the funding of the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust and is managed by CapeNature with an advisory board comprising South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), CapeNature and local landowners.
Brian Vanderwalt
Brians Birding & Ecotours
Skype: brian.vanderwalt
Cape Town
021 919 2192
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(Images by Anton)


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