About the Northern Areas Region
The Northern Areas Region (NAR) of WESSA covers a vast range of habitats and protected areas in the northern part of South Africa. These include a number of key national, provincial and biosphere reserves. The region is comprised of Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga (excluding the Lowveld region), with Gauteng being its main area of operation. The Free State currently also falls under NAR until such time as a regional group can be re-established there. The region is managed by a committee consisting of: chair; coordinator; treasurer; conservation and project leaders; friends’ co-ordinator (who also assists friends and affiliate groups nationally); branch chairs; and zone leaders.
NAR has the largest number of WESSA affiliated friends groups, which do invaluable work in keeping green open spaces maintained and protected. These number about 27 of which 18 are based in and around the city of Tshwane. Currently there are three branches: Springs-Nigel, Boksburg and Tshwane (which is made up of friends’ group chairs), and two newly formed zones, one in Kempton Park and the other in Paul Roux town in the Eastern Free State. There have been regular meetings with the Rustenburg Wildlife Society in the hope of reinstating them as a branch, and the first University Branch based at the Tshwane University of Technology is in the process of being established.
NAR office bearers play an important role in the Conservancy associations, Magaliesberg Biosphere (WESSA founding member), Magaliesberg Protection Association (WESSA founding member 1975) and ARMOUR, a NGO focussed on improving the water quality in Gauteng and North West through engaging with and educating role players at all levels.
Northern Areas Projects
Nyoka Ridge Vulture Restaurant and Monitoring project
Top facilities have been created to enable members and the public to view the endangered Cape Vulture in its natural mountain habitat and at close quarters when visiting the feeding area.
Over 600 Cape Vultures are thought to be resident in the area. The main aim is to supply a consistent supply of food every weekend with the addition of crushed bones in the breeding season. Trap cameras are used at the feeding site to photograph the birds’ wing tags. This info is shared with the Endangered Wildlife Trust Vulture unit.
Blue Cranes of the Magaliesberg Project
This project is aimed at educating the public about the plight of South Africa’s national bird and protecting the last two breeding pairs in the region.
Queen of the Night Bio Control Project
Queen of the Night (Cereus jamacaru/Cactaceae) is a category 1 invader. It invades rocky ridges and savanna and grows under and among trees where it replaces indigenous vegetation and prevents animals from accessing food and shade. Bio Control has proven to be a successful method of elimination without the risks that herbicides present. The entire region North and South of the Magaliesberg is now in various stages of bug release, which began 2013.
Save Magaliesberg Species (SMS)
This project focuses on regular snare removal activities for interested members and the public. Top of the list are the Leopards of the Magaliesberg.
ARMOUR (Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers) was established in late 2015 to build a new river ethos in Gauteng. The aim is to return our rivers and wetlands into clean, living waterways by linking accountable authorities and civil society in an integrated water stewardship initiative.
ARMOUR’s first success was lobbying for emergency funding from Joburg Water (JW) for urgent maintenance of Northern Waste Water Treatment Works (NW) in late 2015 to deal with constant sewerage flows into the Jukskei River. The outcome of this was concerted actions to stop this pollution and the formation of the Jukskei River Working Group that meets regularly with Joburg Water (JW) to identify and monitor problems at the wastewater-Jukskei River interface.
Since then, ARMOUR has focused on three areas:
1.Building a fast response system with JW for identification and repair of sewerage leaks.
2.Promoting civil society’s co-responsibility for water stewardship by sharing information through a variety of electronic media.
3.Seeking innovative approaches to waste water management by interacting with the Water Research Commission and involving Prof Chris Curtis of the Wits University Centre in Water Research and Development (CiWaRD) to enable master’s students to do research on the many facets contributing to the pollution of our waterways.
Through its affiliation with, and financial support from WESSA, ARMOUR has been able to print its own brochure, develop a website and a business plan and set up a very active Facebook page. An active committee meets regularly and is now planning to extend ARMOUR’s footprint to the Hennops River, part of the northern catchment area that ends up feeding the hyacinth in Hartbeespoort Dam.
The Committee, which considers itself ‘A Voice for Water’ consist of:
Anthony Duigan, formerly of Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy and Greenbelt Action Group
Helen Duigan, former Chair of Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy
Willem Hazewindus, formerly Regional Chair of WESSA Northern Areas
Mark McClue, Chartwell Conservancy
John du Plessis, professional engineer
Willem Snyman, founder of FRESH (Fountains & Rivers Environmental Sanctuary Hennops)
Branches & Friend Groups
Please check back soon for updated information.