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South Central Nature Reserves

     Edith Stephens Wetland Park (Cape Flats Nature)

  • Edith Stephens Wetland Park on Lansdowne Road opened in 2000. It consists of a small seasonal wetland, a large flood retention pond with a bird hide, an indigenous plant nursery run by Working for Wetlands, and the offices of Cape Flats Nature and the Primary Science Programme. The Park is 40 hectares in size.

  • About 65 species of indigenous plants grow in this small urban nature reserve, and 8 of these are on the Red List, including the tiny water fern Isoetes capensis.

  • More than 80 different bird species have been seen at Edith Stephens Wetland Park and many breed there, such as the Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) and Red Knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata).

  • 5 amphibian species are found here, including the Endangered Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus).

  • Edith Stephens Wetland Park provides local residents and schools with conservation, recreation and educational opportunities, from teacher workshops to picnics and children’s holiday programmes.

Who was Edith Stephens?

Edith Stephens was a botanist who worked at the University of Cape Town. She studied simple plants like ferns, as well as fungi (e.g. mushrooms) and algae. As long ago as the 1940s she noticed that wetlands on the Cape Flats were being destroyed and that plants and animals living in these wetlands were becoming threatened.

After she retired, Edith Stephens raised money to buy 3.7 hectares of land with a seasonal wetland in Philippi. She gave the land to Kirstenbosch to look after. A very rare, tiny, ancient fern-like plant called Isoetes capensis grows in this wetland, so it became known as Isoetes Vlei (say: I-so-ee-tease).

Edith Stephens wasn’t a wealthy person but she cared about nature and people. She wanted to make sure that this seasonal wetland survived and that future generations would be able to enjoy and study the plants and animals living there.

The City of Cape Town and its partners decided to honour Edith Stephens by naming the new Park after her.

  Macassar Dunes
  Wolfgat Nature Reserve
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