Posted on the 24th October 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:
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:

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.

30 August 2016
To – BirdLife Partner CEOs - Launch of the Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership
Dear Colleagues,
I am delighted to inform you that the new Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership will be launched at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii on the 3rd September.
Eleven of the world’s leading nature conservation organisations (BirdLife International, IUCN, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Wildlife Conservation, IUCN, Natureserve, RSPB, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund International), will come together to deliver a shared initiative to support the identification, mapping, monitoring, and safeguard of KBAs through the KBA Partnership.
As you know BirdLife has engaged fully and for some time in the complex and multi-stranded work and negotiations to develop a KBA Standard and an appropriate and functional KBA governance mechanism for the KBA Partnership. We recognise the great benefits that a unified global currency for the most important sites for biodiversity conservation can provide to decision-makers, the private and financial sector and the conservation community. But it has been essential to ensure that the interests of the BirdLife Partnership and the investment over40 years of our work in over 120 countries to identify and conserve thousands of IBAs are fully recognised and provide a strong foundation for KBAs.
BirdLife Council, advised by Council’s Science Policy and Information Working Group, has provided strategic direction, set clear red lines, monitored progress and mandated the Secretariat to lead on these negotiations on behalf of the BirdLife Partnership over the last 18 months. At BirdLife’s 54th meeting in June 2016, Council approved BirdLife joining the new KBA Partnership on the basis of the core principles agreed at a governance meeting in February 2016 between 11 conservation organisations. These conditions have been met and the final KBA Agreement text has been approved by BirdLife’s Chair, Treasurer and Chair of the SPI Working Group ready for signature in Hawaii.
Significant elements of BirdLife’s role in the KBA Partnership will include managing the World Database on KBAs on behalf of the KBA Partnership; having a permanent voting seat on the KBA Committee; and co-hosting with IUCN the KBA Secretariat. The KBA identification process is perceived as a strongly bottom-up process where BirdLife Partners may choose to play a crucial role. BirdLife is now extremely well positioned to advance this work and take advantage of the new opportunities presented by IBAs and KBAs. This will importantly include reinvigorating our efforts to ensure that information at these sites is regularly updated and monitored and that this information is accessible, visually appealing and fully used to strengthen site conservation and safeguard at all levels.
I enclose a flyer which will be used to communicate KBAs at the Congress. Also a media release is being prepared which BirdLife’s communications team will share with your staff in the next few days.
This is just the beginning of the KBA journey. We realise the importance of ensuring clear, timely and comprehensive information to you on what the KBA Partnership means to the BirdLife family and to our strong tradition on IBAs. The Secretariat will be working closely with you over the next few months to talk through and seek your input to the next steps. This will include a series webinars to further explain and discuss different strands of IBA and KBA work. The first in the series was held on 21st July and if you couldn’t make it and would like to learn more please look at this link (password: ibakba) You can also view the PowerPoint presentation from the webinar with background at this link:
If you have any comments or questions regarding the KBA initiative, we would like to hear from you! Please do not hesitate to contact me and Melanie Heath, Director of Science, Policy and Information who is leading this work, with your queries. We are currently preparing additional simple guidance on all aspects of the KBA programme and your feedback will help shape these.
I’m extremely excited about BirdLife’s role in the KBA initiative. Working to prevent species extinctions and maintain the diversity of life on earth is core to Birdlife’s mission - equipping decision makers with the data and knowledge on the most important places for nature is fundamental to achieving this. Our strong foundation on the IBA work is serving the rest of the Conservation Community and I couldn’t be more proud of all what we have been able to achieve. With this opportunity we are using our expertise, knowledge and experience on the ground to make IBAs and areas that are important for biodiversity easier to be known, understood and adopted by decision makers. Thanks for you continued support and your hard work on conserving IBAs and KBAs.
With best wishes,
Patricia Zurita
Chief Executive Officer
BirdLife International

5 September 2016
Dear Birdlife South Africa Directors and Staff members
I hope our letter finds you all in good health. An amazing event took place over this past weekend.
Due to us winning your competition that was linked to the Birdathon walk, 29 of our learners attended a camp at CTEET at Zeekoevlei. Our children had the time of their lives. They learned new things, gained valuable knowledge and were exposed to many new experiences. Their night walks and Dragon boat activities rated the most popular. The camp leaders Justine, Luvuyo and Phillipa are just the best!! The showers were a hit. For most the showers were a new experience and thoroughly enjoyed by all. For many of our children it was their first experience out of their respective communities.
The respectful manner in which they were treated by all your staff members was heart-warming. The food served was really enjoyed by all. For many of our learners, the food served was a luxury. The cooks Mrs Barry and Aunty Miriam are such sweet and caring ladies. From the bottom of our hearts, a huge thank you for the sacrifice you made in terms of finances, time and effort. It is and will still be appreciated for a very long time to come.
We wish your Company all the success you deserve. Continue leading the way in showing other companies what real caring means. May God bless each and every one of you.
Best wishes and lots of love
Staff, Parents, Learners and community of Zeekoevlei Primary School

Since my report at the last WCBF meeting on 4 June, John Fincham and Skhumbuzo Mbewu have updated their PowerPoint presentation and visited two more Drakenstein schools. This means that so far more than 160 local teachers have been made aware of the potential of the Paarl Bird Sanctuary and Waste Water Works area as an outdoor classroom for environmental studies.
School visits to PBS: The first official school visit took place over two days on 1 and 2 September and was extremely successful. Almost 80 pupils of the Desmond Mpilo Tutu High School in Mbekweni were given a tour of the Waste Water Works guided by staff members as part of their school curriculum on water purification. The second half of the morning was devoted to an introduction to the birds of the sanctuary. Bird ID sheets were provided for each pupil. Skhumbuzo Mbewu guided the groups on a walk around the inner pans to identify the birds and explain various environmental aspects. He also discussed career possibilities in conservation and tourism and answered numerous questions. John Fincham and other CBC members set up telescopes on the bird viewing platform overlooking Pan A and some extra binoculars were also provided. Some time was spent studying the birds from here. The pupils completed an Evaluation Form after their visit and were invited to add their comments. These, without exception, were highly enthusiastic. They really appreciated and enjoyed the experience. Bus transport and mid-morning refreshments were sponsored by the Drakenstein municipality whose staff members have been extremely helpful and supportive throughout. The vandalised toilet facilities have been repaired. Plans for additional security fencing are not yet finalised.
Planned meetings: Following the recent local municipal elections some new councillors have been appointed to the Drakenstein municipality. One of them has proposed a meeting to include the portfolios of the environment, youth affairs and tourism. This will provide orientation and an opportunity to discuss forward planning and action. Further meetings are also anticipated with municipal staff and with members of the Paarl Bird Sanctuary Advisory Committee. John has also been contacted by officials from the National Department of Environmental Affairs who have requested a meeting, probably towards the middle of October when one of their key members will be visiting Cape Town.
Funding: Regarding financial sponsorship, we have to thank the Cape Bird Club for providing start-up funding of R10 000 to cover Skhumbuzo’s time and expertise and John’s fuel costs for the months up to the date of the school visit. However, this is now exhausted. We have had no news from other potential sponsors but will continue efforts to raise additional funds to enable the project to continue.
Note: At the WCBF meeting on 1 October John Fincham will summarise the history of PBS and describe some of the educational information discussed with teachers. Evidence that birds are powerful environmental and ecological indicators globally, regionally and locally is reviewed. It is emphasised that children need to see and experience birds in order to understand how important they are to humans.
Jo Hobbs

WCBF – Cape West Coast Feedback
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.
4. Mining.
· 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.
Keith Harrison
West Coast Bird Club – Conservation.
21st September 2016

Conservation Report WCBF September 2016.
LIBAS: The criteria for LIBAs (locally important bird areas) has been circulated with no criticisms. This will now be formally presented to BLSA with a view to further discussion.
SABAP2 : Les has requested financial support to employ statisticians to ensure “clean data”. He appealed to clubs for support. WCBF should consider approaching the ADU to ensure that this process is progressing and if necessary assisting to ensure that it is completed.
i) BLSA and the CBC are in the process of entering into an MOA (memorandum of agreement. ( no longer an MOU). A disturbing feature is that we (BLSA/CBC) will be required to take out R20million public liability insurance. We’re referred it to the BLSA HQ for their comment.
ii) M.Sc Erica Essig has completed her Master’s dissertation, funded by the Julie te Groen Trust and is awaiting final confirmation. Both external examiners commented favourably. Research examined methods of improving wader habitat in artificial wetlands, which could have important conservation implications.
iii) Hyacinth: We are negotiating with the City to share expenses to spray the water hyacinth which covers 2 pans and an ongoing invasion of other pans.
iv) Breeding Banks: CBC has started an innovative plan to construct breeding banks. Fund has have been set aside for a student to study best method to achieve this.
Other Matters;
Sewage Works: We are continuing our outreach to other sewage works. Our plans were discussed with central management and were warmly received. Plans are now afoot to improve habitat at Mitchell’s plain and include Borcherds Quarry in ongoing assessment.
Plans to mine silica in the Philippi area have been approved. We have appealed against the decision, but there is little chance that the decision will be overturned.
Rehabilitation of mined areas: We are in consultation with Consol glass to assist them in rehabilitating mined area.
Paarl Sewage Work. John , Jo and Skhumbuzo’s sterling work there will be addressed by John, but we need to determine whether they require assistance and the forum’s role in future developments.
Beyond the Cape Peninsula:
Berg River – This area, after Langebaan, is the arguably most important wetland in the Western Cape. Recent discussions with non birders (but conservationists) were disturbing. We should debate this with the West Coast BC and decide:
I) whether the comments which we relayed to them are correct and
ii) decide on a course of action if there are conservation concerns at this site.
Dave Whitelaw -


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