Shame of on Stellenbosch fire
Jan 2021

Lees meer in

Dave talks directly about the neglect of a reserve that is close to his heart.

Allow me to speak straight.

The Idas Valley Nature Reserve is located to the right of the road leading to Rustenberg. I have lived in this area for 22 years, and know this area like my hand. It used to be a municipal plantation, with pine and eucalyptus trees planted throughout the area.

But for the past 20 years, this area has simply been allowed to decay, even more so: nowadays it has been taken over by invasive plants, the erosion of the dilapidated roads is frightening, and littering has an open gate and book. Furthermore, firewood is collected illegally, and hunting takes place at night.

On several occasions I have approached all the Municipality to do something about this nightmare, but my requests simply elicited no response or interest. Can one draw conclusions from this? I think so.

I find it tragic that Stellenbosch, one of the most beautiful towns on earth, has a perfect inner city, which is surrounded by ecological disorder. One gets the feeling that as long as the historic streets are neatly swept, that things are going well with the town. No, it does not work that way: one cannot establish a sustainable economy in a bankrupt environment.

And now a large part of the reserve has burned down.

Bad news?

No, not at all, because fynbos and the associated renosterveld must burn to remain vibrant and dynamic. So this fire was the right thing to do, for the wrong reasons.

My request, anew, is that Stellenbosch Municipality is now given the opportunity to make a correct start to the ecological restoration of this precious natural area. Now is the time to take stock of the entire reserve, compile a short-term management plan, and implement it purposefully.

All the expertise to do it well is available in our town. We have Botany and Zoology at the University, as well as the Center for Invasive Biology; exactly the expertise required.

A helicopter douses the flames. Photo: Dave Pepler

I will take up this matter again with the Municipality, because, go check out their website a bit:

Green & Sustainable Valley
1. Explore waste to energy initiatives.
2. Bokhasi – Recycling of food waste.
3. Re-designing the six primary entrances into Stellenbosch.
4. Greening informal settlements.
5. Sustainability through food security projects.
6. The only B-Municipality that has an impressive 4 nature reserves.


The brutal answer is no. Without politicizing the matter, I begin to wonder if Idas Valley is sucking at the back teat when it comes to their environment.

This right is enshrined in our constitution, that of access to a healthy environment. What’s good enough for Die Braak is good enough for Idas Valley.

Let us take full advantage of this accident, and start repairing our irreplaceable environment. If we do it together, and right, I can guarantee the streams of water of yesteryear, will flow clear again.

I stand ready to help where I can.

An aerial photo: Google Maps


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