Paddavlei summary rehabilitation report

Summary of the Paddavlei Ecosystem Rehabilitation report

M N Austin

Paddavlei a large healthy open water body, now in need of rehabilitation
The Paddavlei a healthy open water body with Granny Maree swimming her duck daily

The Paddavlei wetland was once a balanced, stable, self-sustaining, wetland ecosystem providing numerous services to the local community.  That was 10 years ago. Unfortunately it has since been allowed to deteriorate to a much smaller body of water with unchecked growth of reeds and invasive species.  Heidi Niewoudt of the DEA inspected it in December 2016.  She confirmed that it was worth saving and needed urgent attention to halt the deterioration of the whole ecosystem from Hoek van die Berg to the Bot River Estuary.

An integrated social-ecological management plan (insert name) was drawn up for the Paddavlei ecosystem (Austin 2017).  It was presented to the OSM and the Western Cape DEAP. The DEAP has subsequently workshopped the report and put together a group to investigate the area.  They visited the area to see for themselves. The initial report was accepted by them in toto at a meeting hosted by Paddavlei Eco- Group (PEG) at the Thusong Hall, Hawston.

The major problem with the Paddavlei is that there is a great reduction of water into the system, from the catchment area due to 100% of invasive species, and that the water from the system then drains through the sand dune into a separate ecological system. This results in very little water flowing down to the Skilpadsvlei, which is now severely polluted with sewage and other pollutants.  These then drain into the Bot River Estuary, a RAMSAR site, a world heritage site.

There are numerous examples of environmental degradation or destruction within the Paddavlei ecosystem such as:

  • The Paddavlei wetland has been degraded and nearly destroyed. It can, however, still be recovered.
  • The Skilpadsvlei wetland is polluted and this should be corrected.
  • Chemicals have been used which have been ineffective and have contributed toward destroying the fynbos.
  • Water supplies have dried up: this is primarily because there has been no control of invasive species in the catchment area.
  • Misguided engineering works have ignored the environment: the supposed storm water drainage project stole water out of the ecosystem and moved it into an adjoining ecosystem. Thankfully this project was abandoned years ago, before the Paddavlei wetland was completely ruined.
  • Funds and time were wasted with obfuscating projects and issues.
  • Illegal rubbish dumps were created in the most environmentally-sensitive areas adjoining the Bot River Estuary.
  • Rubble, plastics and glass are still being dumped into the wetlands.

Other environmental damage or destruction has occurred within the Paddavlei ecosystem in 2017:

  • the complete destruction of a wetland above the R43 opposite Hawston
  • the continuing degradation of vast areas through mismanagement
  • the wanton destruction of many smaller areas, such as by bulldozing rubble into wetland areas
  • the creation of a fire hazards on the level of the Knysna fires, adjoining Hawston, Fisherhaven and Meerensee
  • the complete ignoring of EIA recommendations on a number of projects, for example, Hawston Storm water project and the housing project adjoining Hawston
  • the ignoring of evidence of abuses and repeated action of abuses, due to no oversight or control
  • the exploitation of ill-informed members of the public
  • the denial and lack of action about decisions made in the past such as Hawston PACA process
  • the creation of an illegal dump site between the Paddavlei ecosystem and the sea
  • the fact that Ward 8 of the OSM has for years been regarded as the rubbish dump of the area and has largely been ignored in terms of budgets: local organisations seem unable to function in terms of their obligations; they exploit minor differences of objectives and misuse information to curtail any concerted effort to protect the environment. 

There has been little recognition of the urgency, recognised by national and provincial government; for the correction of past mistakes or for any real progress for a way forward for the rehabilitation of the Paddavlei ecosystem. Although a great number of individuals to which the project has been presented have not questioned the validity of the actions required; no combined effort has been put into place to proceed with this project.

PEG is made up of very keen local residents involving the local children, the residents see this project as the start of real community involvement and as a catalyst to development of an area that has been ignored in the past.

The Paddavlei summary is a summary of the full report Paddavlei ecosystem rehabilitation report and subsequent writings on issues related to the report are available from the author or PEG.

Austin M N, 2017. Paddavlei Ecosystem Rehabilitation. Report for PEG, Hawston Development Association.

A subsequent report on the Paddavlei ecosystem is available on this site.

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