Dressing the Princess

“…our intention is to dignify the Princess and in so doing restore dignity to the people of this area who have historically been marginalised.” Kelvin Cochrane

Visitors to the Vlei will have been struck by the remarkable transformation that has occurred over the last four years. Slowly, the neglected and degraded areas around the vlei are taking on a new life, as hundreds of newly established fynbos plants begin to grow and flower.

This transformation has been enabled by a collaboration of organisations and passionate volunteers, on a project affectionately called Dressing the Princess.

In July 2008 the City was approached by Kelvin Cochrane (Cape Flats Wetlands Forum) and an NGO called Biowatch with a proposal to rehabilitate the area to the south-east of Princess Vlei. In August 2008 the City signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Kelvin, Biowatch and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The City was represented by City Parks, as the custodian of the land, and the Biodiversity Management Branch of the Environmental
Resource Management Department, as the conservation authority.
To date, some 5000 plain sand fynbos plants, including Restios, Ericas and Serrurias,
some strandveld, and approximately 200 trees have been planted on the 10 000 m2 site. The reintroduction of fynbos plants is starting to attract pollinators and other animals.

Cochrane has extensively involved local schools, who have each adopted a plot to plant and care for, local residents and other volunteers. They have landscaped the area, planted indigenous vegetation and started building pathways. The students of Lotus River High have also been growing plants for the site. The City has provided technical and operational support such as tools, mechanical plants and transport. SANBI and Working for Wetlands have provided labour and plants.

Apart from restoring the vegetation and ecological systems, this project also sets out to engage local communities, educate school children and others about the importance of fynbos, and demonstrate to the City that Princess Vlei is not a “lost cause” - the argument some have used to justify giving it up to private development.

The Cape Flats Wetland Forum

This locally-based organization from Grassy Park was formed to undertake ecological rehabilitation projects of neglected areas, and promote social development by supporting public green space projects.

The forum has worked in collaboration with City Parks, Rondevlei Nature Reserve,South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), local civil-society association, LOGRA, the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA), environmental organization WESSA and an ongoing social-ecological research project at the African Centre for Cities at University of Cape Town. Since it’s inception it has undertaken several rehabilitation projects of neglected areas in the last four years. For more information go to The Bottom Road Sanctuary