Cape West Coast Feedback to the Western Cape Birding Forum meeting on 1 October 2016
Conservation concerns on the West Coast
1. Environmental Status.
The West Coast is at a crossroad environmentally, the current laid back attitude to environmental problems has to rapidly change because of the UN declaration that Saldanha Bay Municipality has the possibility to become a “Green City” with a population increase from 107,000 to 880,000, and must be self-sufficient. Industrially concentrating upon being the base for Western African Oil/Gas industry, Mineral beneficiation and fishing where Saldanha is also to greatly expand the Mariculture industry.
How does this effect birds.
In order to compete with overseas producers Saldanha Steel has to produce its own electricity and for other industries. The logical site straddles a flyway between the two IBAs Lower Berg River SA104 and Langebaan Lagoon and Islands SA 105. Ornithologists have admitted that there is migration between the two but there has been no professionally accurate mapped flyway. Therefore before development commences the 4 flyways should be accurately defined, so that corridors can be left for bird passage.
Not only there are problems with this plant but also Grid lines going to Aurora Sub-station.
It should be noted that between 2009 and 2014 Kelp Gulls breeding pairs on the West Coast fell by 41%. Kelp Gulls use this flyway daily between the two IBAs.
Extensions to the Harbour for the Oil/Gas industry will involve dredging which will cause siltation to the Lagoon, with changes the habitat and makes it unsuitable for migrant waders. The “wader pans” and Yzerfontein and Red Pans should be considered for preparation to attract more waders.
2. Large Tourism/Holiday Home development at Trekoskraal, sited between Jacob’s Bay and Cape Columbine on an isolated stretch of coastline. Consisting of approximately
1000 erven, which includes a 120 room hotel. No Avian Specialist Report was considered necessary for the Scoping Report. After previous applications it seems that an area has been allowed to be degraded by camping and 4X4 activity, development would impart some controls.
3. Berg River Estuary Management Forum.
· Water Monitoring,- Phase 1 completed chemical analyses, and “trigger points identified”. Phase 2 the biological monitoring stage to commence.
· Bank erosion being monitored, it is suspected little can be done to stop the banks eroding due to tide, wind and powerful boat activity.
· Hyacinth problem under control but further infestation coming down from the Winelands Municipal Area.
· By-laws for the river use have been drafted and are with the Mayor of Berg River Municipality. Control of river users expected for this summer.
· Angling, there is now a “Catch and Release” Club at Velddrif.
· Ramsar status – see BLSA Report.
· Elandsfontein Phosphate Mine has a monthly information bulletin in the Local Press.
· Application received for prospecting for phosphate and limestone adjoining railway at Saldanha.
5. Requests for Advise received.
· SBM, need to clear out a reed infested storm water channel, stopped until Cape Weavers and Southern Red Bishops complete their breeding seasons, about 4000 birds involved.
· SAMSO, are concerned about a proposal to use “Big Bay” Saldanha for para-sailing and kite-boarding and affect upon birds, this is a post breeding moult area for Cape Cormorants.
· Honorary Rangers.
Placement of a dead tree near the Abrahams Kraal Hide to assist photographer/birders, excellent idea but reeds and sediment should be removed first.
Removal of the hides at the “Wader Pans”. The area can be an integral part in the birding experience of the Park especially in the future when the Lagoon changes from being wader friendly, these pans will become important feeding areas and need developing.
West Coast Bird Club – Conservation.
21st September 2016