Nokuthula Ntuli
Deputy editor
4 minute read
27 Feb 2021
06:18

Bisley Valley, Ferncliffe to benefit from nature reserve proclamation

Nokuthula Ntuli

Msunduzi has given its endorsement to the proposal to proclaim the Bisley Valley and Ferncliffe conservation areas as nature reserves.

Msunduzi has given its endorsement to the proposal to proclaim the Bisley Valley and Ferncliffe conservation areas as nature reserves.

The move is hoped to help the City attract the funding from the Department of Environmental Affairs to upgrade these nature reserves upon the finalisation of the proclamation.

According to a report presented by the general manager for community services, Mbongeni Mathe, Bisley is home to a number of protected and vulnerable species, including birds, reptiles and game. He said Ferncliffe was previously identified and gazetted by the minister of environmental affairs as a “critically endangered ecosystem”, thus it was worthy of protection.

He said the proclamation would lead to collaboration with provincial conservation authorities which would result in the promotion of compliance with the relevant environmental regulations. He said it could also lead to increased investment in the municipality as protected areas and tourism had a longstanding mutually beneficial relationship.

“The amount of game that is being poached around the City and especially in those reserves is quite frankly, criminal.”
Councillor Ross Strachan, DA

Mathe said Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife was in full support of the proclamation proposal.

Councillor Linda Madlala, who is also the chairperson of the community services portfolio committee, said the proposal was a progressive move by the City as it would get both Bisley and Ferncliffe up to a proper standard.

Councillor Ross Strachan of the DA also supported the proposal, saying both reserves were currently “an environment for poachers to thrive in and spots for dog hunting as well as the general poaching of indigenous animals and protected species”.

He said if the reserves were properly managed these areas would be safeguarded because they were great tourism assets for the Midlands. “The amount of game that is being poached around the City and especially in those reserves is quite frankly, criminal.”

“We have deployed internal security and we do have staff that are responsible for the daily management of the park. That’s why we are submitting this proposal so that we can build more capacity to maintain and also improve the condition of the two parks.”
Mbongeni Mathe, Msunduzi Municipality

The ACDP’s councillor Rienus Niemand agreed, saying the people of Msunduzi previously had the privilege of walking around the Bisley Valley but over the years the facility had deteriorated to point where infrastructure was vandalised on a daily basis and poachers roamed freely because there was no security. He said something needed to be done urgently to secure the park until the proclamation was finalised.

Mathe, said there were already some plans underway to secure the conservation areas and those included fencing the Bisley reserve because animals such as giraffes tended to wander all the way to France township.

“We have deployed internal security and we do have staff that are responsible for the daily management of the park. That’s why we are submitting this proposal so that we can build more capacity to maintain and also improve the condition of the two parks.”

Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve

Edith Elliott-Dennison, chairperson for the Upper Mpushini Conservancy under which the Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve (FOBNR) falls, said they had been pushing for the proclamation and were ecstatic that council had given the green light for the process to start.

FOBNR had already been involved in the upkeep of the conservation areas and regularly volunteered to repair the infrastructure such as bridges and removed snares.

“Our motivation is to preserve and secure a vital university study and education area while securing endangered fauna and flora, preserving biodiversity and keeping a vital source site of key river systems in Pietermaritzburg.”
Edith Elliott-Dennison, chairperson for the Upper Mpushini Conservancy

Elliott-Dennison said the proclamation for just Bisley would cost around R100 000 as there were studies that needed to be conducted as well as drawing up of plans and advertising for public comments.

“The Upper Mpushini Conservancy will bear the costs of proclamation —with funds from our donors — and for the biodiversity study, management plan and gazetting costs. The municipality does not have to worry about finding these funds.”

She said Ezemvelo was also cash strapped, so to pay its share of the proclamation fees was a problem so the conservancy would cover those as well.

She said they would also source funding for Ferncliffe which “possibly would only qualify as a protected area until it is properly rehabilitated but it could subsequently also be proclaimed in 19 years as a nature reserve”.

“Our motivation is to preserve and secure a vital university study and education area while securing endangered fauna and flora, preserving biodiversity and keeping a vital source site of key river systems in Pietermaritzburg — like Ferncliffe which we will also support — pristine, as a tourist and training area for all Pietermaritzburg’s people. This is why we also want to restore the education centre,” she said.