From the news desk

Visits at Two City nature reserves up despite Covid-19

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The City’s Biodiversity Management Department has recorded an increase in the number of visitors at the paying access points of the Helderberg and Witzands nature reserves, mainly for hiking.

Visitor numbers at these two reserves still remained high, although the picnic areas were closed at times during the year, or had visitor numbers limited due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

“The increase in visitor numbers at nature reserves speaks to people’s desire to find escape in nature. Nature helps us cope with anxiety during this difficult time, while also strengthening our resilience. I want to encourage our residents and visitors to get out and explore what the nature reserves have to offer, especially as the days are getting warmer,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

While numbers at these two reserves remained high, other nature reserves saw a reduced or stagnant number of visitors during the 2020/2021 financial year. At the non-paying gate at Zeekoevlei, visitor numbers decreased significantly because of the braai and hall areas being closed for most of the year.

Numbers at other reserves like Tygerberg remained more or less the same.

Also, despite the pandemic and lockdown, Cape Town retained the first spot, for the second year running in the global City Nature Challenge. The first place is awarded for the number of observations and species recorded at City nature reserves. Cape Town first participated in 2019 and came first in two categories. Some participated in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, in 2021, the number of recorded sightings increased by 33% while the number of recorded species increased by 4%. The number of participating observers increased by 26%. This means residents used the opportunity to explore the reserves as soon as lockdown provisions allowed more freedom of movement.

Also, during lockdown, the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve won the Best Facility Award after the reserve team took the initiative to convert an old, under-utilised building into a true asset that attracted local visitors. They also planted an indigenous garden showcasing local plants, thus encouraging residents to make water-wise gardening choices during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot more to see and do at our reserves – the flowers are currently blooming and residents should really take full advantage of this time,” said Alderman Nieuwoudt.

Residents and visitors are reminded that the best time to view flowers is in the afternoon, when the sun is out. Any time between late morning and 15:00 is advised, while the sun is highest in the sky.

Visitors are reminded to please observe the necessary Covid-19 protocols for their own health and safety. Always mask up, practice social distancing and carry your own sanitiser.

Photo supplied


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