Gauteng and NW Province

Estate plan threatens wetland

An envisaged road to serve commercial interests will destroy endangered frogs’ breeding ground.

Fiona Macleod

Growth around northern Johannesburg in anticipation of the second phase of the Gauteng freeway improvement project is cutting large swaths through precious wetlands and making a mockery of the Water Act, environmentalists have said.

Gateway estates are springing up around three major roads linking Fourways through Kyalami to Midrand, an area described by the developers as “the heart of Johannesburg’s next boom”.

Kristen Kallesen, chairperson of the Just Environmental Action group, said although phase two of the free-way project had been put on hold by the department of transport late last year, the developers were being guided by regional planning that zoned residential and commercial development in some of Gauteng’s last “green lungs”.

The K56, which runs from north to south parallel to the N1, would destroy five wetlands and cut across about 40 properties.

“These wetlands are the breeding grounds of the giant African bullfrog, an endangered species only found in healthy wetland systems,” Kallesen said. “The developers may undertake to relocate the bullfrogs, but that does not mean they will protect the breeding grounds.

Paul Fairall, chairperson of the Gauteng Wetlands Forum, said the roads would cut through 17 wetlands and “the third-largest breeding area left in the world for this near-threatened charismatic amphibian”.

Fairall said the alignment of the roads did not take into account the movement of water and drainage lines, which could threaten the ecological reserve of water required from new developments under the water Act.

“The planners do not realise that we are facing a huge water crisis. If they approve this kind of development that cuts through water courses they might as well throw away the Water Act.

Mail & Guardian

May 8 – 24 2012

It is our responsibility as human beings to try and restore the balance. Please conserve water. A little ‘inconvenience’ is a small price to pay for the one thing we CAN NOT do without; water.

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