OBJECTION TO THE DRAFT INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE
Posted on the 19th October 2017
DRAFT INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE, HERMANUS (MUNICIPAL NOTICE 117/2017): OBJECTION ON BEHALF OF BIRDLIFE OVERBERG AND THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM
We agree in principle with objections written by Duncan Heard and Antony van Hoogstraten, as well as that of Rob Fryer drafted on behalf of Whale Coast Conservation and support these objections. This objection will only focus on birding and birding tourism and is supported by nearly 50 letters of support by BirdLife Overberg members. Several of our members have further submitted their own objections. We also have the support of the Western Cape Birding Forum, representing all registered bird clubs in the province. The Hermanus Bird Club has also raised an objection.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve forms part of the Cape Whale Coast Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), recognised by BirdLife International. The IMP for this reserve was evaluated against the background of IBA principles. The importance of this IBA (SA 118) and the role that Fernkloof Nature Reserve plays in this can be studied at this link:
Section C.8.4 of the IMP mentions a few bird species to be seen in Fernkloof, but ignores the fact there is a diversity of endemic species available for local and international bird-watchers. Endemic species that are unique to fynbos habitats are of particular importance in this regard and here the Cape Siskin, Cape Rock-jumper, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Victorin’s Warbler are all resident in Fernkloof. A few sightings of the Protea Seedeater are also on record. The Fernkloof Nature Reserve is hugely popular as a top birding destination and is as such a huge asset to tourism in the greater Hermanus region. Several tour guides utilise this facility to showcase the region’s unique birds to their clients.
It is also significant to note that sections A.1.2 (National/ Regional context) and A.1.3 (Local context) of the IMP do not even mention birds, birding or for that matter birding tourism as recreational activities at all. Have the consultants consulted with any of the birding groups? Are they aware of the huge number of birders, both local and from overseas that visit the reserve? Do they have any idea of the growing importance of birding tourism locally, nationally and internationally? From where we sit it does not seem as if this is the case and therefore we include some links indicating the importance of birding tourism in the region. (It is ironic that these links are taken from web pages that were initially developed through sponsorship from the Overstrand Municipality and later modified through sponsorship from the Table Mountain Fund).
Introduction to birding along the Cape Whale Coast:
Endemic bird species of the Cape Whale Coast region:
Birding along the Hemel & Aarde Valley and the Rotary Way scenic drive:
Birding along the Hermanus Cliff Paths and the Klein River Estuary:
Birding in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve at Hermanus:
The IMP proposes possible developments such as a cable way with landing stations, astronomy centre, accommodation units and zip-lining cables and platforms, all of which will have a detrimental effect on the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Such developments will have a major negative impact on the growth of birding tourism in our entire region.
From our support of the mentioned objections and from a birding perspective we object strongly to the developments proposed in the IMP and recommend that it be swept off the table and into recycle bins.
Dr. Anton Odendal
Chairman BirdLife Overberg & Western Cape Birding Forum
(t): + 27 28 3161105 (c): +27 82 550 3347
(The Fernkloof images below taken by Anton)
Practical outing during Flight for Birders course at Fernkloof Nature Reserve
BirdLife Overberg club outing at Fernkloof Nature Reserve
Orange-breasted Sunbird in Fernkloof - a hugely sought-after endemic associated with the Cape Floral Kingdom
Cape Sugarbird - another important fynbos endemic
Cape Siskin - yet another important fynbos endemic
Cape Grassbird - a common endemic in Fernkloof
Practical outing during a Flight for Birders course - along the Hermanus cliff path, forming part of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve
Cape Rock-jumper - BirdLife Overberg's logo bird and one of the most sought-after terrestrial birds in southern Africa