The State Party submitted a State of Conservation Report on 28 March 2007, which included information on institutional arrangements, management and conservation measures in the property and its surrounding areas. The State Party also reported on the funding for management activities to address the threats of fire and invasive species, but did not mention where threats and mitigation measures were taking place in relation to the World Heritage property.
a) Boundaries and management:
The report mentions that despite a number of acquisitions of properties adjoining several of the protected areas (e.g. Baviaanskloof and Table Mountain National Park), a submission has yet to be made to UNESCO for formal inclusion of these newly acquired properties to extend the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site (CFRPA). The delay is largely due to the ongoing negotiations to establish a single coordinating authority for the component protected areas of this property. The single coordinating authority is expected to be in place by 2012. It is envisaged that once the coordinating authority is in place, the proposal for an extension of the CFRPA will be compiled and submitted. The report adds that management of the property has been enhanced due to significant improvements in legislation to protect the property.
Much of the conservation activities are supported through the various partnerships and volunteer networks in the region. An extensive partnership exists between SANParks, CapeNature, the Eastern Cape Parks Board, the Cape Action for People and the Environment (C.A.P.E.) Programme and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). CapeNature is the lead implementing agency for the C.A.P.E. Programme and manages six of the eight protected areas which form the World Heritage property. Funds for the management of the protected areas are distributed through national and provincial funds. The Global Environment Facility, through the World Bank and UNDP, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund support the enhancement of protected areas management. These funds are investing USD 20 million in the whole Cape Floral Region (CFR) between 2005 and 2009.
c) Fire management:
The State Party reported that the growth of the natural/urban interface is increasing the risk of fires as people cause 90% of fires. In recognition of this, CapeNature developed a Fire Management Plan, which aims to develop a Vegetation Fire Strategy within 5 years. The national ‘Working on Fire Programme’ has trained and equipped 1056 fire-fighting recruits since 2004. However, manpower to combat fire is still inadequate and more trained fire fighters are required.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that urgent studies and collated data are required on fires and fire frequency in order to ensure that uncontrolled wild fires do not adversely impact upon the values and integrity of the property. For example, CapeNature’s 2006 analysis in the Boland Mountain Complex region of the property suggested that 56% of the burnt area experienced localised plant extinction.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the national monitoring programmes administered by non-governmental organizations and research units under the South African National Parks, CapeNature and the Eastern Cape Parks particularly its work in fire mapping. These need to be strengthened and integrated with a built-in mechanism for feedback for conservation.
d) Invasive plant species:
The State Party reports that one of the major factors affecting the Cape Floral Region is the impact of the invasive alien plants which out-compete indigenous flora and seriously threaten species diversity. CapeNature has an ‘Invasive Alien Plant Strategy’ which highlights areas where additional information and research is necessary. CapeNature invasive plants clearance in the 2005/2006 period was 112,000 ha, short of the 139,000 ha target. For the 2006/2007 period 3746 ha were cleared of invasive plants for the first time and follow-up clearing took place in a further 2707 ha. The Table Mountain National Park and the ‘Working for Water Programme’ have undertaken initial clearance of 85% of Table Mountain National Park, and are engaged in follow-up clearing. The State Party has also indicated that plant invasion is increasing and that currently invasive alien species management is fragmented, hence the need for further coordination.
In regard to water catchment management, the State Party report expresses concerns of reduced available water resources in the catchment basins due to the effects on run-off and stream flow from the higher water consumption of invasive plant species. In recognition of this problem, the ‘Working for Water Programme’ uses locally employed labour as a means of poverty alleviation works to control invasive plant species. ’Working for Wetlands’, another public works programme, also addresses threats from invasive alien plant species.
e) Education and raising awareness:
Policies and programmes related to the presentation and promotion of the property have been improved, particularly those dealing with outreach and educational programmes. As part of the fire management programme, the FireWise SA awareness campaign has been launched to reduce the number of fires. The campaign targets landowners and school children. Similar education programmes operate through the ‘Working for Water’ and ‘Working for Wetland’ programmes.
The State Party has also reported that information has been disseminated in various media, particularly in the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province, to raise awareness on conservation and protection of natural heritage, in particular on the Table Mountain National Park.
IUCN has received conflicting information on the status of the CapeNature budget. The State Party reports an increase in budget, while other reports indicate that the budget has been reduced for a number of the protected areas of the World Heritage property.