Tuesday 2nd July 2024

On Thursday 4th July the Green Scorpions will be carrying out an investigation of criminal activity on the Papiesfontein state land earmarked for conservation. Extensive environmental damage has been inflicted on sensitive vegetation at Papiesfontein since the land was occupied illegally over a year ago.

Over three thousand square meters of highly endangered renosterveld has been cleared by the illegal occupiers. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulation under the National Environment Management Act is triggered when more than three hundred square metres of vegetation classified as endangered is removed without prior Environmental Authorisation.

The Greater Kabeljous partnership is a group of long-standing environmental activists, conservation practitioners, and concerned Jeffreys Bay citizens who joined together to protect this unique landscape. The partnership welcomes the Green Scorpions investigation as a vital step in protecting the fragile ecosystem. The culmination of this will be declaration of the Greater Kabeljous area as a reserve well known for its rich biodiversity.

Green Scorpions to investigate

The Greater Kabeljous area comprises the Kabeljous and Papiesfontein parcels of state-owned land northeast of Jeffreys Bay, as well as the privately owned land stretching up to the Gamtoos River. The area contains irreplaceable biodiversity, with at least 16 plant species of special conservation concern, an endangered and protected ecosystem type known as Humansdorp Shale Renosterveld,

and five bird species of special conservation concern (including the highly endangered Black Harrier). Humansdorp Shale Renosterveld is listed as an endangered ecosystem in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act

The Papiesfontein state land is owned by the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements who are moving to have the illegal land invaders evicted from the site. Last week they gave permission for Kouga Local Municipality to demolish a newly erected illegal structure with immediate effect. The municipality is also working in conjunction with the Department of Human Settlements for the removal of four structures erected previously.

“We are greatly encouraged to see that the rule of law is being applied and enforced by the Department of Human Settlements and KLM,” said Michael Sternberg of the Greater Kabeljous Partnership, “and the news of the Green Scorpions site inspection gives us hope that lawfulness will prevail.”

Image 1: Aerial imagery of the most recent structure illegally erected at Papiesfontein. For just this one dwelling, another c.490 sqm of endangered Humansdorp Shale Renosterveld was cleared by the invaders without authorisation.

 

Image 2: aerial survey showing the 3 main areas of endangered renosterveld that have been cleared by the invaders so far. The yellow outline shows the perimeter of the Papiesfontein state land which is owned by the Provincial Department of Human Settlements. So far more than 3,000 square metres of endangered renosterveld have been cleared by the invaders. This area is home to the last remaining ecologically viable portion of humansdorp shale renosterveld left in the world.

Green Scorpions to investigate

Image 3: an example of the type of clearing done to build the illegal structures.

 

Image 4: Image of the illegal structure structure that was attempted to be erected, as well as the concerning presence of fire.

Green Scorpions to investigate

 


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