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Location South Africa, Western Cape
Central coordinates 18o 31.00' East  34o 5.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 3,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 20m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary The False Bay Ecology Park is centred on the Strandfontein Sewage Works, but also includes Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei Nature Reserves. The system provides a range of semi-natural habitats, including deep and shallow open water, seasonal open ponds, canals with aquatic vegetation, reed, rush and sedge-beds, bare and vegetated shorelines and islands.

Site description This proposed park is centred on Strandfontein Sewage Works, but also includes Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei. Situated on the Cape Flats between Muizenberg and Mitchell’s Plain, 20 km south of Cape Town, Strandfontein, like many wetlands around South Africa’s major cities, is almost entirely man-made. Prior to 1922 the only wetland habitat at the site was the small temporary marsh Tamatievlei. In 1922, a small sewage works was built, and additional water was channelled into the system from the nearby Zeekoevlei. Over the years the complex has been enlarged progressively. By 1976 the small water-body, Tamatievlei, had been converted into 34 settling ponds covering over 306 ha.

The system provides a range of semi-natural habitats, including deep and shallow open water, seasonal open ponds, canals with aquatic vegetation, reed, rush and sedge-beds, bare and vegetated shorelines and islands. Well-grassed banks separate the ponds. The sewage works functions entirely by algal decomposition, a process that requires a large number of shallow vleis. The algae and the large number of copepods which accompany them provide a rich food supply for many bird species.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The wetlands act as a network, but the majority of the birds are centred on the Strandfontein Sewage Works, where a total of 168 species has been recorded; of these, 76 are freshwater wetland species and a further 18 are coastal species that visit the area to roost or breed. Breeding has been confirmed for 45 waterbird species. This high diversity of waterbirds is due to the wide range of wetland habitats present, and the proximity of Strandfontein to the ocean, which permits both freshwater and coastal species to exploit the system. The abundance of waterbirds supported by Strandfontein has increased progressively since the 1950s, reaching an average of over 23,200 individuals during the period 1980–1990. During extreme years, numbers rise above 30,000. The following nationally threatened and near-threatened species are found at Strandfontein: Phoenicopterus ruber, Pelecanus onocrotalus, Circus ranivorus, Sterna caspia and Charadrius pallidus. The site holds a regular tern roost of some 3,000 birds when the water is low enough for islands to form in the shallow pans, including fairly large numbers of Sterna hirundo, S. sandvicensis and S. bergii.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
South African Shelduck Tadorna cana non-breeding  87-477 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Shoveler Spatula smithii non-breeding  603-1,418 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma non-breeding  346-1,332 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis non-breeding  403-628 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus non-breeding  25-51 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis non-breeding  328-1,380 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus non-breeding  1,878-4,328 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor non-breeding  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis breeding  1,000-15,000 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis non-breeding  2,665-40,000 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta non-breeding  467-942 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus non-breeding  996-3,685 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Hartlaub's Gull Larus hartlaubii non-breeding  1,156-3,506 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii non-breeding  753 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis winter  3,027 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  1,025-6,832 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds resident  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds non-breeding  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2012 high not assessed medium
  unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases introduced genetic material likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Shrubland Shrubland - Cape (fynbos)  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Wetlands (inland) Sand dunes and beaches - riverine  0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Anas capensis Cape Teal 1799 450 individuals 26 very unfavourable
Spatula smithii Cape Shoveler 1418 630 individuals 45 unfavourable
Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe 51 16 individuals 32 very unfavourable
Larus hartlaubii Hartlaub's Gull 3506 830 individuals 24 very unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Shrubland - Cape (fynbos)  -
Wetlands (inland) Sand dunes and beaches - riverine  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
unknown -
nature conservation and research 100%

References Allan et al. (1990), Ashkenazi (1986), Berruti and Sinclair (1983), Broekhuysen and Frost (1968), Chittenden (1992), Cooper and Pringle (1977), Cooper et al. (1976), Kalejta-Summers et al. (in press b), Longrigg (1982), Ryan et al. (1988), Schneider (1996), Summers et al. (1977), Turpie (1995), Underhill and Cooper (1984), Winterbottom (1960, 1968b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: False Bay Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/07/2015

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife