The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area played host to a historic moment in the Overberg.
Both the Overberg District and Cape Agulhas Municipalities signed the Durban Commitment, during a Wetlands Awareness day held on the NWSMA. The event was held at the Black Oystercatcher on Tuesday 9 May.
The Overberg’s commitment
The Commitment states that local governments and the communities they serve will “protect and enhance biodiversity at a local level”.
The municipalities join a long list of local governments around the world that have committed to protect their natural resources, including the City of Cape Town and the City of Johannesburg.
Getting to know our wetlands
During the Wetlands Awareness day, the NWSMA team took councilors from both municipalities for a guided trip around the area, showing them the wetlands where 7 hippos were reintroduced, as well as the buffalo and their boma.
According to the Cape Agulhas Municipality Mayor, Paul Swart, “It was an eye opener to see the importance of the wetlands. We don’t really understand every day the importance of the conservation of wetlands in our area. You are in the most southern district of Africa – this is where (conservation work) started.”
‘We can’t do it alone’
The NWSMA’s Chair, Dirk Human, said landowners here realised in 2003 that they were custodians of an area important in a global context. “We identified the fact that we can’t do it alone. We have to do it with our partners, like local authorities.”
The NWSMA works closely with local government, like the Overberg District Municipality, in supporting fire management across the region.
Dirk said, “There are lots of opportunities to use the SMA land as a practical implementation practice, to get answers. For example, we need to do lots of monitoring. And there’s opportunity for job creation here.”