Joy for uMngeni Valley

2019-06-11 15:00
Wessa uMngeni Valley operations and reserve supervisor Sphe Dladla looks out over the newly-proclaimed nature reserve. PHOTO: ian carbutt

Wessa uMngeni Valley operations and reserve supervisor Sphe Dladla looks out over the newly-proclaimed nature reserve. PHOTO: ian carbutt

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The magnificent uMngeni Valley has officially been given “Nature Reserve” status following a seven-year legislative battle to have the valley declared a protected area.

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), which oversees the valley, started the process of having the area recognised as a protected nature reserve in 2012.

Finally, in May 2019, the process was officially gazetted, turning the valley into a fully-protected nature reserve which means more attention and possibly funding from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Department of Environmental Affairs and other government entities.

Wessa education centre manager Matthew Cocks said the announcement is a “huge achievement”, especially since the valley has been used for education purposes for the past 45 years.

Cocks said it was important to have the area declared a nature reserve as it boasts a wide variety of habitats for people to explore over a short distance.

“Walking around the reserve, one might experience several different habitats in just a day. There are very few other places in the country with the same variety,” said Cocks.

“The valley is very special and is the heart of environmental education in the area,” he said.

The reserve’s different habitats include Midlands Mistbelt Grassland, KwaZulu-Natal Hinterland Thornveld, Southern KZN Moist Grassland, forest patches, riverine thicket, sub-tropical thicket and thornveld savannah.

The valley includes the uMngeni and Karkloof river catchments, from Midmar Dam to Albert Falls Dam.

Cocks said the area also contributed significantly to the economic sustainability of the region through tourism.

He added there are several graves and Iron Age sites within the uMngeni Valley that are of cultural and historic importance.

Cocks said now that they have achieved nature reserve status there will be more attention paid to eradicating alien plants, water quality projects and species protection programmes in the valley.

“We will be looking at hosting more events and functions there provided they do not threaten to harm the environment.

“We also want to expand our education programme and have more schools come to the valley,” he said.

Cocks said five University of KwaZulu-Natal students are busy conducting research in uMngeni Valley.

“We have even had researchers come out from Sweden. It is something we want to encourage as long as the researchers don’t harm the environment,” he said.

“Wessa will ensure the uMngeni Valley will continue to be a destination for schools and families alike and will offer lifelong memories for generations to come,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  wessa
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