The GEKCO Conservancy
The GREATER KYALAMI CONSERVANCY (GEKCO) is a peri-urban conservancy located in the heart of Gauteng between Pretoria and Johannesburg. It is characterised by grasslands and wetlands and a high level of biodiversity. The large open spaces promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle which has attracted many horse riders and equestrian businesses as well as mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts. Kyalami is the centre for equestrian activities in South Africa and said to be the highest concentration of horses in the Southern Hemisphere.
The unique relationship between the residents and their outdoor lifestyles has created an area that is both developed and still retains many natural areas supporting a variety of species of wildlife, including some which are highly endangered.
Gauteng is the fastest growing urban centre in South Africa. The rapid rate of urbanisation is placing a huge amount of pressure on the natural environment and threatening the survival of many native species. In recent years, urbanisation has become a threat to areas like Kyalami which were once seen as far from the city and safe from unsustainable development. In response to these threats, the residents have come together with a common vision to ensure that the area is developed in a sustainable way that it will continue to support the environment and thus protect the unique nature of the area and its biodiversity.
The committee evaluates developments and their environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to ensure they are done properly and fit in with the objectives of the conservancy. GEKCO is active raising objections to developments which are not sustainable and raises awareness amongst residents and the wider community about the value of the area and the opportunity to create a sustainable, inclusive community which meets objectives set out in the City of Joburg Growth and Development Strategy for 2040 to mitigate against climate change and food insecurity.
The conservancy, together with residents associations and other environmental groups is developing a model for a Green Neighbourhood which promotes sustainable development such as Urban Farming, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and recycling initiatives in addition to the conservancy’s objectives.