Creating an interconnected system of parks and open space

KYALAMI – The Kyalami area has often been referred to as the Central Park or the green lung of the north of Joburg.

November 24, 2015 | Tsholofelo Mosina | Fourways Review

PATTERNS EMERGE: A map of the Kyalami area area, showing green corridors.

This was the stated vision when the Greater Kyalami Conservancy (Gekco) was established in 2006.

Since then, Gekco has been looking at the current and potential corridors where wildlife moves and nature can thrive.

Chairperson of Gekco, Kristin Kallesen explained that Gekco had recently met with officials from both the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) as well as the City to discuss potential mechanisms for protecting the area.

“Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements are options for properties that hold a high conservation value. It requires the landowner to enter into a voluntary agreement with the Province for the protection while agreeing to manage the property Sustainably,” she explained.

Biodiversity stewardship is an approach to entering into agreements with private and communal

landowners to protect and manage land in biodiversity priority areas, led by conservation authorities in South Africa.

According to Kallesen, properties that will qualify include wetlands in good condition, ridges, pristine grassland areas and habitat for endangered species.

Kallesen added that properties within the area not qualifying for stewardship agreements could still form part of a green corridor. “Even if people have a small part of their property they can still attract wildlife and form part of the green corridor.”

Properties within the area that do not qualifying for stewardship agreements could form part of a green corridor.

“The option of registering corridors to preserve areas for wildlife movement and natural features will be investigated further. This will require buy-in from land owners who wish to form part of the corridor. These corridors could be suitable for recreational trails, however sensitive areas such as wetlands and habitat will need to be protected from disturbance,” she added.

Tyrone Mckendry, a biodiversity specialist for Gekco, explained that continuous development in the area would fragment the landscape and degrade the natural habitats and ecosystems that have been established over thousands of years.

Mckendry said, “… Using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) we are able to quickly determine where the important environmental areas are within and around the conservancy.

He added that there was data available showing the Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBA) and Ecological Support Areas (ESA) as well as wetlands and ridges which are considered as important environmental features.

“The next step once we have generated these maps is to do ground trothing, which involves visiting and conducting surveys in these areas to determine if their condition correlates with the maps,” Mckendry said.

According to Kallesen, being part of or adjacent to a green corridor, would allow legislated protection of open space and natural areas and increases in property value. “Similar to a golf estate, the protection of open space allows for better views and certainty in what type of building is allowed and not allowed, as well as the better management through co-operative agreements with land owners and the State.”

Residents can contact Gekco for more information or if they would like to be part of a green wildlife corridor.

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