The Everton, Kloof and Gillitts Conservancies have, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality’s Biodiversity Management Department (BMD), maintained three grasslands in the Upper Highway for over 10 years (30 year in the case of the Eskotene Grassland). The conservancies have spent thousands of rands and thousands of hours of dedicated physical work annually converting these properties from invasive alien plant infested, derelict and degraded properties into stunning grasslands which are rich in biodiversity and of enormous benefit to residents as open green spaces.
The grasslands are:
Minerva Grassland, Gillitts (ERF 257 Gillitts EXT 1 and ERF 239 Chelmfordsville)
Eskotene Grassland, Everton (11 Eskotene Avenue, Everton)
Msinsi Grassland, Kloof ((Remainder of ERF 177 of Kloof, Portion 1 of ERF 177 Kloof, ERF 176 Kloof, ERF 175 Kloof, ERF 174 Kloof, ERF 747 Kloof and Portion 8 of ERF 689 Kloof)
KZN Sandstone Grasslands are eThekwini’s most threatened vegetation type with only 2% under protection (the National Conservation target is 25%). They contain rare and endangered species and are critically important from a biodiversity perspective. In addition the open green spaces are invaluable as assets which improve the quality of life of all residents.
The three grasslands are owned by KZN Department of Public Works (DPW) and are Zoned as “Educational”.
In 2017 the conservancies requested BMD to engage with DPW to have ownership of the properties transferred to the municipality with the undertaking that once transferred the properties would be rezoned for Conservation and protected from development. The negotiations included a fourth property known as the Padfield Park Grassland in Pinetown.
The negotiations between BDM and DPW have dragged on interminably and recently the DPW advised that they “are not in a position to dispose or conclude on any agreements on above mentioned properties due to the finalisation of their Utilisation of Immovable Asset strategy.”
In the interim, despite DPW stating that they could not conclude any agreements we have unconfirmed reports that DPW “donated” the Padfield Park Grassland to a third party without any consultation or discussion with BDM or Padfield Park residents. We also have unconfirmed reports that the third party intends to develop the property.
This unprecedented action by DPW has raised very serious concerns with regard to the future of three properties mentioned above.
In light of the above this petition calls for:
The KZN Department of Public Works to transfer the above mentioned properties to eThekwini Municipality with immediate effect.
That once the properties are transferred to the eThekwini Municipality then the municipality is called upon to immediately rezone the properties for Conservation.
That the KZN Department of Public Woks act in good faith and refrain from making any deals with any third parties and that the Biodiveristy Management Department, the Conservancies and the residents of Gillitts, Everton and Kloof be adequately consulted and informed of any developments with regard to the departments Utilisation of Immovable Asset Strategy and which relate to these properties.
Consideration of any other points that would need to be covered in relation to achieving the objectives as set out above.
The Gillitts, Everton and Kloof Conservancies collectively urge all residents of Durban to sign this petition and support the protection of our grasslands for current and future generations.