Locals’ project is award finalist

2015-11-10 06:00
Some of the Village Heights residents who participate in a nature conservation programme.

Some of the Village Heights residents who participate in a nature conservation programme.

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A nature conservation programme that involves Village Heights residents has been nominated as a finalist in the Eco-logic Awards for its role in reconnecting residents with nature and areas of beauty, while also addressing the socio-economic challenges of unemployment and poverty.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, says the City of Cape Town is extremely proud of this project because the False Bay Nature Reserve is an inclusive space that has brought people together from different backgrounds to learn and understand the value of this natural asset and their crucial role in caring for it.

“The Friends and Neighbours project at Village Heights arose from the legacy of social ills that often spill over to the nature reserve, including illegal access, illegal harvesting of resources, criminal behaviour, illegal dumping and land invasion,” he says.

Van der Merwe says as part of this programme, the False Bay Nature Reserve has partnered with stakeholders to lead successful interventions.

Communities on the western boundary of the reserve, such as Village Heights, Seawinds and Lavender Hill, have helped to clear illegally dumped waste, remove alien invasive vegetation and develop food and indigenous gardens.

“Not only have these interventions had a positive impact on biodiversity and the natural environment, but they have supported the transition towards urban sustainability by cultivating a sense of pride and contributing to the alleviation of crime and poverty in the community,” he says.

Village Heights is an informal settlement adjacent to Lavender Hill and Seawinds and backing onto the western boundary of the Rondevlei section of the False Bay Nature Reserve.

The nature reserve includes Rondevlei, Zeekoevlei, the Cape Flats wastewater treatment works, Pelican Park and a coastal section.

This project, which the City intends to replicate in other areas, brings together organisations such as the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET), Working for Wetlands, the Zandvlei Trust, Abalimi Bezekhaya and BirdLife South Africa to work with the Village Heights community to enhance their environment, cultivate a sense of community pride and alleviate poverty.

The Awards, hosted by the Enviropaedia, identify and give recognition to individuals, organisations, products and services that are making a real and measurable difference in creating a more sustainable world to live in.

The winners will be announced at the Eco-Logic Awards gala evening in April next year.

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