Save the Wild Coast Campaign

Threatened nature in South Africa

Please support the international "Save the Wild Coast Campaign" by sending a letter or fax to the South African President, Thabo Mbeki and the Minister for the Environment, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

Download a specimen letter (RTF file, 10kb)

Thank you very much for your help.

Background Information:

Wildcoast - Pondoland Centre of Endemism

The Pondoland centre of endemism is located in the Eastern Cape Province on the shores of the Indian Ocean of South Africa. The Pondoland Centre, as part of the Maputaland-Pondoland Region, has subsequently been acknowledged as one of the important centres of plant diversity and endemism in Africa. The area is the smallest of the 18 centres of endemism and boasts 1,800 plant species.

Late in 2004, Washington-based "Conservation International" published the book "Hotspots Revisited" in which 34 " Hotspots" are identified as "Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions". One of the newly added Hotspots is the Maputaland-Pondoland Region. The Pondoland Centre is the smallest and the most vulnerable.

There are 39 European Migratory birds found in the area to be impacted upon by the proposed Toll Road. Two species are globally threatened: the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and the Corncrake (Crex crex) while one species is globally near threatened: the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanii).

South Africa is signatory to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity. Article 6 of the convention provides for General Measures for Conservation and Sustainable Use and requires contracting parties to develop national strategies, plans and programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and to integrate these as far as possible into relevant sectoral programmes. Currently South Africa has developed the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan as part of the obligations to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity.

South Africa is also a signatory to the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The primary objective of the Convention is accordingly to protect migratory species. One of the objectives is to encourage "range states" to conclude agreements for the conservation and management of species listed in appendix 2 of the Convention.

In 2002 the South African National Roads Agency Ltd, accepted an unsolicited bid by a construction consortium to construct a Toll Road from East London in the Eastern Cape to Port Edward in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Currently 85% of the existing road is being upgraded.

The construction consortium has proposed to develop a new section of road "Green fields" between Lusiksiki and Port Edward (85 kilometres in length). This section of road will traverse through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism, thus impacting on area that has been internationally recognized as a "Global Hotspot" for flora and fauna.

The South African Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Minister van Schalkwyk, announced on the 31st August 2005 that an agreement between the Eastern Cape Department of Nature Conservation and the National Department had been reached to create the Pondoland National Park. The Minister was however, extremely vague as to where the boundaries of the proposed Pondoland Park would be.

The "Save the Wild Coast Campaign" has welcomed this commitment, however the Minister has declined to confirm whether this will exclude the construction of the controversial 85 kilometres of road through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism as well as a proposed titanium strip-mining application along the 220 kilometres of pristine coastline. Word in the house of Parliament is that the road will proceed in spite of the fact it will travel through the area that should be set aside as a National Park.

The "Save the Wild Coast Campaign" has led an advocacy and lobbying campaign to re-route the "Greenfields" section of the road to a section known as the R61 which travels in close proximity to many towns and settlements. This option would benefit many thousands of inhabitants and be a sustainable option in terms of poverty alleviation and sustainable job creation, while ensuring the protection of a globally recognized hotspot and access to intergenerational equity.

The SWC require international support for this advocacy to ensure that South Africa honours its commitment as signatories to The Convention on Biodiversity and The Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

International support for this measure addressed to the National Minister, Minister van Schalkwyk would give impetus to the campaign and ensure South Africa’s accountability to international obligations.

If there are any questions please contact the "Save the Wild Coast" campaign directly:

The Wild Coast Campaign
PO Box 52
Port Shepstone
Kwa-Zulu Natal 4240
South Africa

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