Edith Stephens Nature Reserve

Edith Stephens Nature Reserve

Public Forest/Natural AreaEnvironmental EducationWildlife HabitatNative Forests/PlantsWetlandsBird and Wildlife Watching


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In 1955 Edith Stephens, a far-sighted botanist, donated land to the South African National Biodiversity Institute to protect Isoetes capensis. This plant is found nowhere else in the world. In 2000, the City of Cape Town joined this conservation initiative, and added the surrounding land to form the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve.

The nature reserve spans over 39 hectares and is within the process of being formally declared.

The vision developed for this priceless gem includes the restoration/rehabilitation of habitats to support associated species and to promote opportunities for a platform of partnerships which are compatible with conservation on the site. Management strives to work with local communities and stakeholders in reaching this vision.

The site also has one of the few German homesteads of the 1800s in the local area which is now filled with education and development programmes.
Edith Stephens Nature Reserve is a place where people and nature meet, encouraging communities to actively take care of this rare example of typical wetland habitat, once widespread on the Cape Flats.

The vegetation type found at Edith Stephens Nature Reserve is a transition from Cape dune strandveld to Cape Flats sand fynbos, both of which are highly threatened.

Some species found at the nature reserve include the rooitulp (Morea flaccida), blou-uintjie (Morea tripetala), Candelabra flower (Brunsvigia orientalis), patrysblom (Colchicum capense) and the geldbeursie (Albuca cooperi).

The large seasonal wetland provides an important habitat for breeding waterfowl, such as Cape shoveller (Anas smithii), yellow-billed duck (Anas undulata) and African snipe (Gallinago nigipennis). There are five amphibian species, including the eastern-most population of the endangered Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus), which start their mass breeding in the first weeks of August.

Various reptiles and mammals can be found here, including the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) that still move along the Lotus River canal.

ADDRESS: Corner of Govan Mbeki and Vygekraal Roads, Philippi (GPS -34.001016 S, 18.551479 E)

OPENING HOURS: 07:30-16:00 (weekdays); bookings essential for weekends



ACTIVITIES AND FACILITIES: Picnic sites, birdwatching, Working for Wetlands nursery, urban agriculture garden, medicinal garden

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: The environmental education centre provides local residents and schools with conservation, recreational and educational opportunities, from teacher's workshops to children's holiday programmes. The Primary Science Programme is based at the nature reserve. Tel: 021 691 9039 or visit www.psp.org.za

Tel 021 691 8070; Fax 021 691 7375


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