This report has provided information in relation to a number of different themes. Although the statistics reveal that Cape Town is facing environmental challenges, it is encouraging to note that the overall trend is largely positive, with significant improvements noted in the water use, biodiversity, invasive species, climate change and solid waste categories.
The City’s commitment to formally proclaiming many of its nature reserves under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, Act 57 of 2003, is a major achievement and ensures long-term biodiversity conservation. The City is on track to achieving its target of conserving 65% of the BioNet by 2019.
Invasive species continue to be a significant threat to Cape Town’s biodiversity. The City’s Invasive Species Unit, along with its partner organisations, is making ongoing improvements in raising awareness, removing invasive species and creating jobs that have a positive impact on communities.
Natural public green space is accessible in proximity to most residents. There are no formal provisions for the development, maintenance and operation of natural public green spaces as a cluster. However, there are targets set for the expansion of the biodiversity network, for open spaces, and coastal management, and these all contribute to the expansion of accessible public green space. The lack of access to these spaces in terms of transport routes and fees, as well as a possible entrance fee to certain parks, remains an issue.
In terms of freshwater quality, there has been some improvement. The water quality of wetlands and vleis has met 2014 IMEP targets, while the water quality of rivers has not. In terms of coastal water quality, it is also evident that there are still significant challenges to ensuring excellent water quality along the entirety of the coastline. However, a number of beaches are performing excellently.
Significant improvements have been noted in water usage. A steady decline in the amount of water used was observed for the years 2011 to 2014, and again in 2016, correlating with increased water-demand management interventions put in place. The City is working tirelessly to mitigate and adapt to the persisting water crises.
Wastewater treatment works have met their targets of compliance with DWS standards for many years. In 2016 there was a slight decrease in compliance, but it was still above target. The City is continuously trying to improve compliance in wastewater.
In terms of climate change, the City has broadened its focus on climate change issues, increasing its efforts in combating climate-change impacts through a multitude of adaptation and mitigation programmes, which include adopting a Climate Change Policy and appointing a Chief Resilience Officer.
It is encouraging to know that the City continues to comply with the South African air quality standards. Measurements show that air pollution has decreased or remained unchanged in most areas. The City continues to ensure commitment to reducing the source and effects of bad air quality.
There has been a significant percentage of waste-to-landfill diversion in 2016. However, the total amount of waste generated has increased. Increased efforts in waste diversion by the City and external stakeholders provides an encouraging outlook for the future of solid waste generation and disposal.
In summary, the themes showed the following changes in 2017: