WESSA and BirdLife South Africa are partners in a proactive conservation stewardship project that aims to achieve a level of formal protection for the Verlorenvlei estuary, near Elands Bay on the West Coast of the Western Cape, and its principal catchment, Moutonshoek. The Moutonshoek catchment supplies the Krom Antonies river, the main tributary that recharges the Verlorenvlei estuary with freshwater. Verlorenvlei estuary is a proclaimed Ramsar site and is thus recognised as a wetland of international importance. It is also listed as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. However, these conservation statuses do not infer formal protection or conservation action. The focus of this project is to bridge the gap between the conservation status and current lack of protection by working to establish a level of formal protection for both the estuary and its principal catchment.
Funding from the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust has enabled the employment of a full-time, site based project manager who was appointed in January 2014 and has already made good progress with stakeholder engagement. The project runs from December 2013 to December 2017 during which the aim is to collaborate with local farmers, using the Biodiversity Stewardship model, to declare a Protected Environment in the Moutonshoek catchment. A Protected Environment Application and associated Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for this catchment will be submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs during the three-year project span. Concurrently the project staff and partners are supporting Cape Nature in their endeavour to declare the Verlorenvlei estuary a Nature Reserve.