Reducing the environmental impact of tourism
There are numerous initiatives to help achieve this, including:
- Events must be approved as meeting the standards of the City’s Events Policy, which addresses events-related environmental impacts such as water, waste and energy
- Green Building Guidelines are being followed by the Municipality for all buildings, including tourism related structures, and these guidelines are on track to become a by-law. The guidelines are also used in the permit approval process for construction
- We have a Bylaw on Solar Panels which requires use of solar panels on all new buildings, including tourism accommodation
- The Green Goal project has a major focus on the environmental impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™
Making a positive contribution to biodiversity
Cape Town is located in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), the world’s smallest and most diverse floral kingdom. As such, it is an area of high biodiversity and unique conservation value – a global urban biodiversity hot spot without parallel. Also, the CFR has one of the highest proportions of endemic species in the world, with over 70% of its approximately 9 600 species found nowhere else in the world. The CFR has officially been identified as a ‘global biodiversity hot spot’, placing an international responsibility on Cape Town to ensure its adequate conservation. Over two thirds of the city’s natural vegetation, mostly occurring outside of formal reserves, is classified as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’. The Convention on Biological Diversity set a minimum target, which requires 10% of the historical extent of vegetation to be conserved. As there is already less than 10% of at least nine of Cape Town’s vegetation types remaining, it is clear that Cape Town will not be able to meet the target for these types. Given this reality, the 24 nature reserves currently owned and operated by the City are critical elements in the conservation of biodiversity and creating public awareness of biodiversity and their role in contributing to conservation. Currently, English Nature recommends a minimum of 1 ha of land under formal conservation per 1 000 population. Cape Town has over 43 980 ha of land under formal conservation, including the Table Mountain National Park. This works out at approximately 12,5 ha per 1 000 population – well above the recommended standard. Many of Cape Town’s natural areas are internationally renowned tourist destinations, but remain inaccessible to the greater portion of the population living in the poorer areas of Cape Town with the least ability to travel long distances to access good quality natural green spaces. The City recognizes this critical social issue, and the need to make an increased effort to incorporate the provision of natural green space and nature reserves into city planning.
We have a city-wide Biodiversity Database that’s used to assist with monitoring the state of biodiversity, and a State of Environment Report is published regularly.
Cape Town also has a Biodiversity Network, with the mission to secure an ecologically representative sample of the City’s biodiversity. This is supported by detailed and current maps of biodiversity nodes and corridors. Biodiversity is also conserved in the 24 official protected nature areas managed by the Municipality, the biggest being False Bay Ecology Park and Blaauwberg Conservation Area.
There is also substantive political commitment and support for biodiversity conservation, as shown by the Municipality having signed the Durban Commitment and the Countdown 2010 Declaration. Also, Cape Town is one of 21 cities participating in the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability project – Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB), which aims to enhance and protect biodiversity in an urban context.
Infestation by alien invasive species is one of the biggest threats to Cape Town’s biodiversity. The City is implementing a co-ordinated Invasive Alien Species Strategy.
Reducing our carbon footprint
The City has developed and implemented various programmes to reduce electricity use by 10%, including
- Developing public and non-motorised transport such as the creation of a network of cycle paths, to reduce transport energy consumption
- Promoting renewable and cleaner energy, including through our Solar Water Heater By-law that specifies mandatory installation of solar water heaters in all new and existing buildings with a floor area of more than 100m2
- Promoting energy efficiency and awareness among residents and business, including by publishing our Smart Living Handbook which gives practical tips to reduce energy usage
- Encouraging use of sustainable technologies through, for example, Green Building Guidelines and Green Procurement Policy
We have also launched in 2010 the Southern Line Rail Project, targeting tourism specifically. It’s a collaboration with Metrorail to promote the use of the Cape Town-Simon’s Town rail line, running along a beautiful stretch of the Cape Peninsula’s coastline, as an alternative to rented cars, amongst tourists.
Cape Town tends to experience periods of severe water shortage through the long warm summers. To help conserve water, several initiatives and awareness programmes have been implemented. City-wide water restrictions were first introduced in 2001, and again in 2004, and saw a dramatic decrease in the amount of water used in Cape Town, demonstrating residents’ willingness to contribute to their city’s environmental sustainability. The City also runs programmes to promote the re-use of grey water.