East Nature Reserves

     Harmony Flats Nature Reserve

  • In between the houses of Casablanca, a suburb of Gordonís Bay, is Harmony Flats Nature Reserve. This tiny nine hectare reserve was proclaimed in 1986 to protect the Critically Endangered Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus).

  • The nature reserve failed to protect the tortoises because people kept damaging the reserve fence. In the early 1990s, the remaining tortoises were removed and taken to Tygerberg Zoo for protection. Unfortunately, they were stolen almost immediately!

  • Even without the tortoises, Harmony Flats is worth conserving. It is one of the last remaining areas of a special kind of Fynbos called Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos. This is the most threatened type of vegetation in South Africa.

  • In spring, Harmony Flats is a wonderland of flowers. People have recorded 218 different indigenous plants growing on this tiny site, including daisies, vygies, orchids, babianas, gladioli and viooltjies.

  • Nineteen plant species at Harmony Flats are threatened with extinction, including the Vulnerable Langsteel Vygie (Lampranthus filicaulis) and Witskollie Protea (Protea scolymocephala), and the Endangered conebush (Leucadendron lanigerum var. lanigerum).

  • After the tortoises were removed, the reserve was neglected for many years. The plants and animals living there were threatened by invasive alien plants, litter and frequent fires.

  • In 2002 Luzann Hendricks, a nature conservation student, started working at Harmony Flats. She encouraged the residents to share what they knew about the useful plants on the site, and in turn she shared her scientific knowledge of plants.

  • Local residents formed the Harmony Flats Working Group. They learned more about the plants and animals in the nature reserve and worked with the City to remove alien plants, clean up the litter, fight fires and develop Arbor Week programmes for local schools.

  • The people living close to Harmony Flats have been working with organisations like CREW and Cape Flats Nature to find out more about the special plants growing in their backyards.

  Helderberg Nature Reserve
  Other natural areas
  Back to listing of East Nature Reserves