The City runs a number of programmes to promote the sustainable conservation of fauna and flora, with a key focus on job creation and enhancing social benefits. Some key management responses helping to achieve the City’s BioNet targets are outlined below. 

Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership

The Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership (DCCP) is a multi-stakeholder landscape initiative. The area is a conservation priority for CapeNature (highlighted on the Provincial Protected Area Expansion Strategy) and was identified as a critical Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Corridor in the 2010 WWF-Table Mountain Fund study. It is included in the BioNet and is also acknowledged as a conservation area on the City’s Spatial Development Framework. The DCCP is prioritised on the basis of having extremely high biodiversity value, with some of the most extensive critically endangered lowland habitat within Cape Town. It comprises the last relatively intact and ecologically functional area of critically endangered and poorly protected Atlantis Sand Fynbos, and includes critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld, Swartland Granite Renosterveld, Swartland Silcrete Renosterveld and endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld habitat. 

The area is also important for Cape Town’s water security as it contains the Witzands Aquifer protection zone. It is also an excellent locality for skills development projects and economic development opportunities. The clearing of alien vegetation alone can create numerous job opportunities. Not only is this an important biodiversity intervention, but clearing alien vegetation will also enhance the productivity of the aquifer. Recreation and tourism activities, such as Mamre Heritage and the Wild Flower Show, can be expanded, leading to further recreation and tourism opportunities, such as game-viewing, following the possible reintroduction of Eland and Red Hartebeest. 

The initiative aims to identify opportunities to secure formal conservation protection for all the land parcels identified within the project area. The ultimate goal is to proclaim all conservation-worthy land in terms of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (No. 57 of 2003). 

The Atlantis revitalisation scheme

In May 2013 Council approved the Atlantis Industrial Incentive Scheme, which includes biodiversity off-sets in the targeted area. Over 906 hectares of vacant land in Atlantis contains critically endangered Atlantis Sand Fynbos and/or endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation and numerous plant species of conservation significance. The mitigation for the loss of this biodiversity requires the identification of an off-set area or financial contribution to biodiversity conservation and is therefore an additional cost and deterrent to investment in Atlantis. By proactively purchasing and conserving key biodiversity properties outside the urban edge within the DCCP, these conservation gains can be used to proactively mitigate the loss of biodiversity remnants within the urban edge and industrial area of Atlantis, thereby facilitating new investment opportunities in Atlantis.

This scheme is supported by the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, which is the competent authority to process applications for Environmental Authorisation. This approach facilitates development while ensuring priority land is added to the DCCP conservation estate, securing biodiversity resources and the vital ecosystem services they deliver.

Protected Area Reviews and the METT-SA audits of Nature Reserves managed by the City

 A robust evaluation and audit system is crucial to ensure effective management of areas designated for biodiversity conservation in protected areas such as nature reserves. The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) was developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a mechanism to facilitate standardised evaluation of the management of protected areas internationally. The use of this tool is now mandatory in projects where the World Bank, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Environment Fund (GEF) are funders. It was adapted for use in the local context and named the METT-SA. The purpose of the tool is to identify interventions required to ensure management effectiveness to international standards and to identify ‘next steps’ for aspects of underperformance. The application of this tool is not to compare performance of different sites with each other, but rather to allow organisations to track progress at each conserved area over time.

The first METT-SA audit of the City’s Nature Reserves was conducted in 2007. This highlighted the need to set lower-level targets for the reserves, many of which were newly proclaimed and managed according to conservation principles. To facilitate identification of steps towards reaching METT standards, an assessment tool, the Protected Area Review (or PA Review,) was designed to be conducted at each nature reserve annually to break these steps up into achievable targets.

The City conducted METT-SA audits in 2007 and 2012, and has conducted the PA Review every year since 2007, showing gradual improvement in scores with an increase from 49%  in 2007 to 76% in 2016. Comparison between 2007 and 2012 METT-SA overall scores for the City’s Nature Reserves shows an increase from 40% in 2007 to 51% in 2012. The next METT-SA audit was scheduled for August 2017. 

Trend and target


  • Trend: More land is being proclaimed, but biodiversity remains under threat 

  • Target: 65% of the BioNet conserved by 2019 

  • Current: 64% of the Biodiversity Network is formally conserved

Policy linkages


IDP: Strategic Focus Area 1 – The Opportunity City 

Environmental Agenda 2009 – 2014: Target 1 – Biodiversity 

City of Cape Town Bioregional Plan:  65% Target for 2019 

Local Biodiversity and Action (LAB) programme: Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBSAP) 2009 – 2019. 

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on Land 

See also: Chapters on Invasive Alien Species and Natural Public Green Spaces.