Green plan for dump

The Vissershok landfill site.

The City hopes to transform the Vissershok landfill from an ugly scar on the land into a wildlife habitat after the site is decommissioned.

In 2013, it hired experts to do a study and advise it on how best to rehabilitate the dump, as required by law.

In 2014 Northern News’s sister paper, Tabletalk reported on the landfill when the City first proposed moving families living near it to Wolwerivier.

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning gave the City the go ahead in 2010 to extend Vissershok landfill’s operations for an extra six to nine years. But the City had to come up with a master plan for the site’s rehabilitation once it closed.

Among other things, the study had tried to gauge how much topsoil would need to be laid over

the landfill to rehabilitate it.

“The provision of topsoil is costly, and we are looking at finding the balance between sufficient topsoil to sustain plant growth and the cost of providing the topsoil,” said the City’s Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg

The study considered plant species best suited for the rehabilitation and advised on other steps needed to “return the site to nature”.

Hendrik van der Hoven Landscape Architects and Environmental Planners and Vula Environmental Services did the study, with the City playing an oversight role.

Vula Environmental Services is monitoring the site and, according to Mr Sonnenberg, is likely to continue doing so for at least five years.

He says the initial results of the study have confirmed that pioneer species such as grass and other hardy vegetation, would establish first. The rehabilitation includes reducing the visual impact of the decommissioned landfill with landscaping and indigenous vegetation.

Ultimately, the City hopes to incorporate the site into the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, formerly known as the Blaauwberg Conservation Area, as a wildlife habitat, but Mr Sonnenberg said that could take up to 20 years.

The report recommends planting seeds during the right season, building a windbreak to protect seedlings and using fire to clear alien vegetation and help fynbos grow.

“The lessons that have been learned through this experience will go a long way to ensuring that the site can be returned to nature, first as a wildlife habitat and eventually, once open to the public, to expand our conservation efforts and to enable future generations to enjoy our natural heritage,” said Mr Sonnenberg.

Roy Fuller-Gee, chairman of the Friends of the Blaauwberg Conservation Area (FoBCA) said he was “absolutely delighted” with the City’s efforts to rehabilitate the landfill site.

“Yes, why not a wildlife habitat linked to both Blaauwberg Nature Reserve and Table Bay Nature Reserve – Diep River corridor,” said Mr Fuller-Gee. “I would rather refer to it as a biodiversity habitat. ‘Wildlife’ can be misconstrued as there is already wildlife within the Vissershok landfill area, but does the public recognise the species of plants, creatures big and small, as wildlife?

“Nature is resilient if we allow it and assist it to recover. Sometimes it can be very expensive but rather rehabilitation than an ‘eyesore’ of barren hills with no biodiversity management to recover what we can for future generations.”

It was important for the City to demarcate “nature areas” if it valued conservation and heritage, he said.