GESRA_landowner_letter by huanghengdong


									Giba Environmental Special Rating Area
Background to the natural areas of Giba
The topography of the Giba area has been shaped by thousands of years of erosive forces
that have resulted in two significant gorges being cut into the landscape. These are the
gorges that exist around the uMhlatuzana River, in the vicinity of Macintosh Falls, and
the Giba Stream between the residential areas of Winston Park and St Helier. Within
these gorges and adjacent to the rivers grow tall riverine forests that extend outwards and
up the adjacent scarps – collectively these forests are known as Scarp Forests. Around the
Giba Stream these forests grade into woodland on the drier north facing slopes and in the
area south of the uMhlatazana River in Clifton. Higher up the gorges and on gentler
rolling topography grasslands exist. These grasslands extend up on to the plateau areas
and are known as KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld, named after the well-drained
sandstone derived soils on which they grow. In both gorges belts of sandstone cliffs carve
steep incisions into the valley sides. Together these habitats form a unique and varied
landscape that supports a wealth of plant and animal species.

Significance to biodiversity conservation
Two of the habitat types mentioned above have been assigned special conservation status
in South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld (the grassland areas) and Scarp
Forest. Both of these habitat types have extremely limited distributions in South Africa:
they are confined to the eastern seaboard region and are highly fragmented in nature
(Map 1).

The significance of these habitat types can only be gauged if we contextualize their
distribution both within their former ‘virgin’ state as well as what is left of these habitats
in their transformed current state. This will give us an idea of the relevant importance of
these areas as has been determined by scientists, such as those employed by and
contracted to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

    1. KZN Sandstone Sourveld
This vegetation type is endemic (restricted to) to coastal KZN and has been classified as
‘Endangered’ by the SANBI1. It has been estimated that, in South Africa, 68% of this
habitat has been transformed and only 0.2% of this vegetation type’s extent is statutorily
protected in Vernon Crookes and Krantzkloof nature reserves.

The habitat is dominated by species-rich grasslands that typically support a rich diversity
of plant species, many of which are rare and endemic (range-restricted). After burns and
the onset of the rainy season in spring, a great diversity of flowering plants can be
witnessed in these grasslands. These plants support a healthy variety of insect life that in
turn supports a variety of bird and small mammal species.

Most of this habitat type in eThekwini has been transformed and a large proportion of the
remaining fragments can be found in the Outer West, in areas such as Kloof, Hillcrest
and Waterfall. Many of these fragments are too small to maintain viable populations of
plant and animal species and it is therefore essential that we prioritise conserving the
larger patches, such as those found in and around Giba.

    2. Scarp Forest
These are ancient forests that are home to many endemic and threatened species. Only a
small portion (20%) of this habitat is currently statutorily protected in South Africa with
those unprotected portions under increasing threat, mostly due to over-exploitation.

In eThekwini Scarp Forests occur between 200m and 600m above sea level and are
situated in steep gorges and associated scarps. They are typically tall, species-rich forests
that contain a wealth of tree, bird, small mammal and insect species.

There are four noticeable concentrations of this habitat in the eThekwini: around Nanda
mountain; Krantzkloof NR (the only statutorily protected scarp forest in eThekwini); a
small patch downstream of Nungwane Falls; and a discontinuous stretch situated in and
around Giba (Map 2).

Rivers and cliffs
There are two main rivers that traverse Giba: the uMhlatuzana River and its tributary,
Giba Stream. The origins of these rivers lie 5km and 1km north of Giba for the
uMhlatuzana River and Giba Stream, respectively. There are also many seasonal streams
and drainage lines that feed into these systems. Collectively, they comprise an important
aquatic ecosystem that supports a wide range of freshwater organisms. The sandstone
cliffs on the upper slopes of the valleys are host to a number of specialist cliff plants (and
associated fauna) that have specially adapted mechanisms for dealing with the harsh
environment typical of these areas.

Rare plants and animals of Giba
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
has developed a number of different categories for plant and animal species that are
vulnerable to extinction. These include: ‘critically endangered’, ‘endangered’,
‘vulnerable’ etc. Species that fall within any of these categories are known as Red Data
species and many of these species have evolved under specific requirements (e.g. specific
habitat types) that are continually being limited due to the accelerated development of
incompatible land use types. Giba is home to a disproportionately high number of these
species when compared to the total number of Red Data species that have been recorded
in the greater eThekwini area. Appendix 1 lists all the Red Data species that have been
recorded in Giba to date. Of particular interest is the high number of plant species listed
(21 species) and the relatively high number of frog species: 4 of the 5 Red Data frog
species in eThekwini have been recorded in Giba. Of the 4 Red Data bird species in Giba,
two regularly breed here: Lanner Falcons which breed in the cliffs adjacent to Macintosh
Falls; and Crowned Eagles which have two nesting pairs, one in each gorge. The Pink-
footed Giant Black Millipede has only ever been recorded in Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
and in Giba and is especially significant for this area. Given the limited number of field
excursions that have been undertaken by specialist biologists in Giba, it is likely that
many more Red Data species remain undiscovered.
The importance of implementing nature reserve management in Giba
The Giba area is situated in a surrounding environment that is conducive to negative
effects that threaten the current state of the habitats in Giba. These threats exist in a
number of different forms and are already evident, albeit to a manageable extent. Some of
the more obvious threats include:
     Alien invasive plant species – these are exotic species that have competitive
         advantages over indigenous plants and have the ability to displace these in a
         relatively short period of time. In Giba Eucalyptus trees that have escaped from
         old plantations have displaced significant portions of the native forest and
         woodland habitats in the gorge near Macintosh Falls as well as in the Clifton
         area. Other notable invasive plant species include Cromolaena odorata (Triffid
         Weed), Lantana camara (Tickberry) and Solanum mauritanium (Bug Weed), the
         seeds of which are mostly imported into the system from heavily infested areas
         outside of Giba. In order to keep these plants out of the system, a well planned
         and coordinated removal program with on-going follow-ups is essential.
     Commercial muthi harvesting – this is an unsustainable form of harvesting that
         has happened on at least two occasions in Giba in the past year (see photos). It is
         estimated that approximately 30 canopy forest trees were destroyed by this form
         of harvesting during April and May 2007. Populations of other target plant
         species, such as Dioscorea species (climbers with large underground storage
         organs), are also threatened by these activities. The only effective way of
         preventing this from re-occurring is to have permanent field rangers doing
         regular patrols.
     Fire – this is a natural phenomenon in grassland habitats and is an essential
         component of grassland maintenance. However, if fires are allowed to occur too
         frequently and at the wrong time of year, they can cause soil erosion which may
         open the landscape up to alien plant invasions. Similarly, if fires are kept out of a
         grassland for too long, the grassland will become moribund (the smothering
         effect of the accumulation of dead grass material) and will enable hardy woody
         species to encroach on this habitat. Fire management is thus an important
         component of grassland management.
     Water pollution – this can come in a number of different forms some of which
         may originate upstream of the Giba area. These include solid waste (litter) and
         organic pollutants (untreated sewage). Litter can be removed on a regular basis
         and various methods can be employed to trap these items before they enter the
         system. Prevention of organic pollutants requires regular testing and effective
         communication with those responsible for these discharges.
     Soil erosion – this can occur due to badly planned paths and roads, frequent fires,
         overgrazing and the invasion of alien plant species. It is important to implement
         remedial measures as early as possible so as to avoid excessive gully erosion
         which may take many years to rehabilitate and is also resource intensive. Soil
         erosion leads to sedimentation of adjacent streams and rivers having a negative
         influence on the quality of water and the organisms that live here.
The benefits of reserve management
In addition to maintaining habitats for conservation purposes, there are a number of
benefits that reserve management may have for landowners living in Giba. These include:
    Trails and other amenities – a well planned and managed trail system in Giba
        can insure direct access by all residents to all habitats in the area. This can be
        complimented by picnic sites, viewing platforms, rubbish bins, signage etc. to
        improve the hiking experience while preventing this system from negatively
        impacting the environment.
    Conservation security – regular field patrols by trained staff will ensure a safe
        hiking experience while keeping potentially harmful elements out of the system,
        e.g. hunters, commercial muthi harvesters and criminals.
    View-shed protection – many residents in Giba value the open spaces that they
        look onto. These views provide them with a peaceful sense of existence in the
        environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life. To protect the integrity
        of this open space in its current form management is essential. If management is
        not implemented into this system, habitats will become degraded and eventually
        transformed, opening them up to other qualities not conducive to there current
        aesthetic appeal (e.g. grasslands being transformed into alien scrub). There is also
        the opportunity to rehabilitate areas that have already been degraded thus
        improving view-sheds.
    Property values – there is evidence from other areas that have implemented
        resource management interventions to suggest that property values can increase
        due to resource management interventions. An example is the Lower Silvermine
        River Upgrade in Fish Hoek, Cape Town. Table 1 lists the value hikes associated
        with this project; these are categorized into different zones based on the relative
        proximities of houses to the common amenity.
    Protecting sites of historical significance – Giba is home to two stone age sites,
        including the uMhlatuzana Rock Shelter National Monument that preserves
        evidence of 100 000 years of human occupation. Like the natural environment,
        these sites require conservation management to protect them for future
    Environmental education – Giba is ideally situated to provide educational
        opportunities for children living in the area. These can be facilitated by a well
        managed trail system and interpretive materials.

Table 1. Categorised property value changes associated with the Lower Silvermine River
Upgrade in Fish Hoek, Cape Town.
                                         A verage    Total
                                                                       V alue of
                              N ber of value of value of %prem     ium
             Area              affected    each     affected  due to
                                                                       Prem ium
                              properties property properties rehab.
                                                                       (R m  il.)
                                          (R m il.) (R m il.)

              P                                               ith
               roperties bordering on the rehabilitated area w views

  Clovelly                        31        R 1.00     R 31.00       22.0%       R 6.82
  Fish Hoek (newhouses)           44        R 0.80     R 35.20       22.0%       R 7.74
  Fish Hoek (older houses)        16        R 0.80     R 12.80       16.5%       R 2.11

     P           ith         s
      roperties w nearby view of the rehabilitated area (not bordering on it)

  Clovelly                        27        R 1.30     R 35.10       15.0%       R 5.27

                    P                                       ith
                     roperties near the rehabilitated area w no views

  Clovelly                       179        R 1.10     R 196.90      5.0%        R 9.85
  Fish Hoek houses               286        R 0.75     R 214.50      5.0%        R 10.73
  Fish Hoek flats                154        R 0.33     R 50.05       5.0%        R 2.50

                          Total for all properties affected by rehabilitation:    R 45.01

How do we achieve implementing a management system?
The Giba area comprises 315 hectares of land that is mostly in private ownership
(approx. 160 landowners). The eThekwini Municipality owns 45 hectares (Map 3).
Because management requires ongoing finances, it is envisaged that a co-operative be set
up that includes all landowners, including the eThekwini Muncipality. The managing of
finances can be facilitated by a Special Rating Area which utilises the municipal rates
system to direct funds from landowners to a Section 21 company; this company is then
run by a committee that represents all landowners in the proposed precinct. The concept
was adapted from the Urban Improvement Precinct concept that has been implemented
successfully in a number of different urban and residential situations in South Africa. The
details of the various structures and processes that make up the proposed Special Rating
Area are illustrated in Figure 1.

The municipality has secured a contribution of R45 000 per annum, this to contribute
towards their portion of land in the gorge. In addition to this, the municipalities
Environmental Management Department and the Natural Resources branch have
committed expertise in the form of ecologists and resource managers to help manage this
system. The Natural Resources branch has also committed logistical support in the form
of a vehicle and other facilities that will provide backup to the management operations. A
draft budget of the estimated management costs has been prepared, a summary of which
is shown in Table 2.

It is important to note that this initiative will not be implemented unless
  66% or more of the landowners vote in favour of its implementation.
Table 2. Estimated management costs assuming 500 ha of core environmental area.

Operating Costs

Field Rangers                     168000
Casual Labour Fire                 10000
Casual Labour General               7000
Herbicide                           6000
Total staff gear                   11000
Sundries                           10000
Total                             212000

Capital Costs

Trail development materials            0
Depot                              20000
Brushcutters                        8800
Tristar blade                        400
Slashers                               0
Bushknives                             0
Hatchets                               0
Chainsaw                            3600
Backpack sprayers (fire)           12000
Backpack sprayers
(herbicide)                         1400
Beaters                                0
Cell Phones                         1000
2 way radios                         900
Total                              48100

Combined Total                R260,100,00

Figure 1. Flow-diagram showing the organisations and processes of the proposed Giba
Environmental Special Rating Area.
The proportion that each landowner contributes to the Special Rating Area will be
directly proportional to the estimated value of each property, i.e. as has been determined
by the municipal valuation role.

The way forward
If the majority of landowners vote in favour of this initiative and the Special Rating Area
is implemented, there is a strong possibility that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) will
accept a proposal to have this area formerly protected as a statutorily protected Nature
Reserve. EKZNW’s Stewardship Programme has a number of conditions that have to be
met in order to proclaim a Nature Reserve, one of which is the implementation of a
management plan. The main advantage of doing this will be the long-term protection of
this site for conservation purposes. The Municipal Rates Act also makes provision for the
exemption of general rates on areas that are declared Nature Reserves – these will be the
core environmental areas and not entire properties.

The initiative gives landowners the chance to get directly involved in the improvement of
the area by providing energy and ideas to uplift the area. The initiative provides a
platform for landowners to co-operate effectively around issues that affect their natural
commonage thereby providing a safe and pleasing environment for all landowners to

This project has been driven by landowners in Giba as well as by eThekwini
Municipality’s Environmental Management Department. For further information on the
project please contact:

Alistair McInnes
Biodiversity Planning
Environmental Management Department
eThekwini Municipality
Tel. 031 311 7468

Appendix 1. Red Data species that have been recorded in and around Giba.

Common Name       Scientific Name          Habitat
iMfingo           Stangeria eriopus        Forest/grassland
Wild Maple        Seemannnaralia           Forest/cliff edge
-                 Helichrysum woodii       Cliff edge
-                 Senecio medley-woodii    Grassland/cliff edge
-                 Senecio ryhncholaenus    Grassland/rocky outcrops
Wild Begonia      Begonia dregei           Forest/rocky areas
-                 Maytenus cordata         Forest/streams
-                 Crassula inandensis      Forest
Mountain Peach    Aphloia theiformes       Forest
Beautiful         Brachystelma             Grassland/cliff edge
Brachystelma      pulchellum
-                 Streptocarpus prolixus   Forest/cliffs
Pondo Bride’s     Pavetta bowkeri          Forest
-                 Aloe linearifolia        Grassland/rocky outcrops
Forest Crinum     Crinum moorei            Forest
-                 Merwillea plumbea        Grassland
-                 Stenoglotis sp. nov.     Forest/cliff edges
Common Tree       Cyathea dregii           Grassland/riparian
-                 Brachystelma gerrardii   Grassland
-                 Plectranthus             Forest/cliff edge
                  purpuratus ssp.
-                 Streptocarpus            Forest
                  molweniensis ssp.
-                 Cynorkis compacta        Cliff edge
Blue Duiker       Philantomba monticola    Forest
Large-eared          Otomops martiensseni      General & house roofs
Free-tailed Bat
Hottentot Golden     Amblysomus hottentotus    Forest & grassland
Reddish-grey         Crocidura cyanea          Forest & grassland
Musk Shrew
Greater Musk         Crocidura flavescens      Grassland & forest ecotone
Woodland             Grammomys                 Forest & ecotone
Mouse                dolichurus
Single-striped       Lemniscomys rosalia       Forest & grassland ecotone
Dark-footed          Myosorex cafer            Forest
Forest Shrew
Forest Shrew         Myosorex varius           Rocky grassland
African Striped      Poecilogale albinucha     Forest & grassland
Least Dwarf          Suncus infinitesmus       Grassland, usually termitaria
Lesser Dwarf         Suncus varilla            Grassland, usually termitaria
Anchieta’s           Hypsugo anchietai         Forest & savanna
Natal Long-          Miniopterus natalensis    Caves & grassland, forest
fingered Bat

Spotted Ground       Zoothera guttata          Forest
African Crowned      Stephanoaetus coronatus   Forest
Lanner Falcon        Falco biarmicus           Cliffs above forest
Bush Blackcap        Lioptilus nigricapillus   Forest
Kloof Frog           Natalobatrachus           Forest streams
Spotted Shovel-      Hemisus guttatus          Grassland
nosed Frog
Striped Caco         Cacosternum striatum      Grassland
Natal Leaf-folding   Afrixalus spinifrons      Grassy wetlands
Yellowish            Durbania amakosa          Rocky grassland
Amakosa              flavida
Pink-footed Giant    Doratogonus rubipodus     Forest & ecotone
Black Millipede

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