Conservation

BLSA REGIONAL CONSERVATION PROGRESS REPORT FOR THE WESTERN CAPE

Posted on the 16th September 2016

Western Cape Birding Forum
Progress Report: Western Cape Regional Conservation
October 2016
Progress Report
Dale Wright
Regional Conservation Manager: Western Cape
BirdLife South Africa

Progress Report
1. Regional Conservation Programme Funding
BirdLife South Africa recently received the good news that the Rupert Natuurstigting has approved a funding proposal to cover the running costs of the Western Cape Regional Conservation Programme for a further five years, committing R2, 750, 000 to the Programme. This very generous donation will ensure that Dale can continue the good work established during these past five years of the programme. In addition, a proposal to the Table Mountain Fund for R250 000 has been approved; for a project entitled “Enhancing NGO involvement in protected area expansion”. This project will allow Dale to investigate the challenges faced by NGOs involved in protected area expansion, develop solutions to these challenges and review alternative mechanisms for securing sites for biodiversity. This project kicked off in October 2016 and will run for two years. 

2. IBA Programme
The BirdLife International partnership and other global conservation organisations launched the new “Key Biodiversity Areas” standard at the recent IUCN conference in Hawaii. This approach seeks to unite all site-based prioritization standards under a single currency, in order to streamline biodiversity conservation worldwide. BirdLife International has taken a lead role in this process, and will maintain a lead on the KBA Secretariat going forward. This is to ensure all of the hard work done through the global IBA Programme is not lost, but helps form the backbone for the new set of sites to be identified. BirdLife South Africa has already approached SANBI and other partners to take the lead on KBA identification in South Africa, to ensure that our IBAs are included in this network and to prioritize their conservation.
The official announcement is available at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/conservation/601/launch_of_the_key_biodiversity_area_partnership
Hard copies of the Directory and Status Report are still available from Dale Wright; the new Regional IBA pamphlets have been printed and are available for distribution. 

3. Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project
BirdLife South Africa has successfully secured a small grant from the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor to undertake an awareness raising and planning exercise at Verlorenvlei estuary. This will start in November 2016 and assist in the establishment of the Verlorenvlei Conservancy.
The documentation required for the final declaration of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment is in process, as is the sustainability project investigating long-term financing and management of the site. The project was also recently filmed for 50/50 and we look forward to that exposure. 

4. Western Cape Estuary Conservation Project
The project has made good progress of late; including moving towards re-establishing the Lower Berg River Conservancy, and assisting landowners with developing river maintenance plans. The project manager has also been commenting on zonation plans regarding the recreational use of the Bot and Klein estuaries – ensuring the correct activities occur in the right locations can have major implications for the conservation of the estuaries. Contact has also been made with members of the Walker Bay Conservancy, and this will be used as a platform to elevate the conservation in the buffer zone around the Klein River Estuary. 

5. Vergenoeged Waterbird habitat and water quality project
Continues as planned. 

6. False Bay Nature Reserve Partnership
Fundraising efforts continue, with a number of donors approached, and a submission to the Australian Embassy for an environmental education project. Included with this report is a letter received from participants of the Birdathon who won the prize to attend the CTEET overnight environmental education camp. This letter illustrates the amazing opportunities and experiences which the Birdathon provides to members of the local community. The letter is available at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/conservation/600/appreciation_from_zeekoevlei_primary_school
A number of recent academic projects undertaken at the site are currently being developed for publication in scientific journals. The partners are also planning to present this partnership to the City of Cape Town Council later in 2016. 

7. Fynbos Endemics Research Project
Dale Wright continues to support Dr Alan Lee and other partners in the long-term research project regarding climate change impacts on the Fynbos endemic bird species. The next steps in the project include finalizing and distributing the Fynbos endemic bird habitat management guidelines; providing financial support for field work focused on genetic research of Cape Sugarbird and Cape Rockjumper; and the purchase of tracking devices and subsequent research on the Hottentot Buttonquail.

8. Additional Regional Projects
Dale is currently undertaking his first field trip for the “Forest endemic bird species project”; collecting data at Mkhambati Nature Reserve and Mbotyi Forest in the Eastern Cape.
A new Biodiversity Stewardship partnership project is being launched with South African National Parks to help protect land which forms part of the Wilderness – Sedgefield Lakes Complex IBA within the Garden Route National Park buffer zone.
The Regional Programme continues to provide input on multiple steering committees and forums, review and comment on relevant environmental impact assessments, and contribute popular articles to various platforms.


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