Cape Town Film Studios creating its own environmental horror movie?

18 November 2012

Lost natural history? Wetlands on the Dreamworld site (Photo: Bill Harding, 2005)

The Cape Town Film Studio, a.k.a. ‘Dreamworld’, created on a piece of land adjacent to some of the last wetland remnants on the Cape Flats, north-east of Khaylitsha, has been accused of breaching its conditions of approval, by apparently infilling some of the areas set aside for wetland conservation (IOL, 16 November 2012).  These set-asides were a condition of approval for the development and which, according to the IOL report

… two of the conditions of approval for the development – the establishment of an environmental monitoring committee, and the physical demarcation of sensitive sites identified by specialists during the initial environmental impact assessment – had not been met.

If not, then what have the authorities who set these conditions been doing, pray ask?  In the six years since development approval, what has been going on??

This site has been ‘environmentally-controversial from the outset, with the threats to the wetlands featuring in various reports and on TV.  Although densely-overgrown with alien vegetation, examinations of the site suggested that the seasonal wetland environments still present were likely to be of importance for microflora, particularly species of wetland plants long-last seen in this part of the world.  The logical extension of this argument that, associated with such rare plants, might be equally-rare species of microinvertebrates.

The development of the film studios in the sensitive Cape Flats dune-and-wetland area was controversially authorised on appeal in April 2006 by then environment MEC Tasneem Essop, after being fast-tracked by her department but opposed by CapeNature.

Riella purpureospora. Last seen 1897, rediscovered at Century City 1998 (Photo: Bill Harding)

A similar situation arose with the Blouvlei wetlands, where Century City is now.  Restoration work on the remaining 4 hectares of wetland on that site, undertaken by Bill Harding back in the late 90s, re-discovered two species of rare wetland vegetation last recorded 100 years previously – this showing the “memory” and restoration potential that may be hidden, even in areas totally overgrown by aliens.

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