A master plan to protect and improve the home of the penguin colony in Simon’s Town is being drawn up.
Presented to a recent subcouncil 19 meeting, the master plan looks to develop an integrated approach to managing penguin conservation and public access to the coastline and beaches, including viewing areas for tourists.
The plan looks to enhance the sustainability of the area, manage humans’ interaction with penguins and limit the disturbance of sensitive areas between Seaforth Beach and Franks Bay.
Suggested improvements to areas such as the beaches and Burghers Walk are listed in the plan, including removing invasive vegetation and protecting indigenous species, as well as creating uniform signage, installing landscaping and improving walkways.
Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says the area is an important public space from an environmental, tourism and coastal protection perspective.
“The plan aims to address the degraded status of many of the areas and facilitate the access and enjoyment of the space by members of the public and tourists, while at the same time ensuring adequate protection of the endangered African penguin,” he says.
African penguins are classified as endangered. In South Africa they are also listed as a protected species under the Biodiversity Act.
Once South Africa’s most abundant seabird species, over recent decades the African penguin population has slipped closer to extinction. The present population represents only about 2% of the African penguins in the world 80 years ago.
Currently, almost half of the world’s breeding pairs of African penguin are found in the Western Cape.
The master plan will be used to create a high-quality public amenity that contributes to the tourism experience for visitors to Boulders Beach as well as local residents who enjoy the space as a recreational area, Herron adds.
“The recommendations will be prioritised and implemented as budget allocations allow. The City of Cape Town will ask the public to comment on aspects of the plan that will have any significant impacts on the area. Any environmental impact assessments that are required will also require input from the public.
“The final version of the landscape master plan will be made available to the public,” he says.