State-owned Eskom’s Ingula pumped storage scheme, in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, and its associated land, has formally been declared a nature reserve.
The Ingula nature reserve is Eskom’s third following the establishment of the Koeberg nature reserve and the Majuba nature reserve, which were declared in terms of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act.
The Ingula nature reserve area has over 350 bird species, three of which are critically endangered and there is also an abundance of other wildlife, including the threatened Oribi, Grey Rhebok and Steenbok, making the site an incredibly vital biodiversity area for conservation, Eskom pointed out.
In addition, the area is on the continental watershed and is of significant importance as a source of water for the Highveld, with over 2 500 ha of wetlands that supply, filtrate and clean the water throughout the year.
“Eskom has the responsibility to protect, manage and mitigate the impact of Eskom’s activities on the biodiversity of any land that we operate in, which is directly in line with Eskom’s mandate towards leveraging the potential ecosystem services or benefits of that land to contribute to the South African network of conservation areas where possible,” the utility noted.
In line with Eskom’s strategic biodiversity mandate and in consultation with the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal authorities and supported by BirdLife South Africa, Middelpunt Wetlands Trust and Conservation Outcomes, Eskom was able to declare 7 637 ha of land as the Ingula nature reserve.
“This is a very proud moment for Eskom. The declaration of the nature reserve is one of many successful milestones in the conservation of the Ingula site which demonstrate how successful partnerships can be when there is commitment from the leadership of all partners supported by the efforts of many passionate individuals on the ground,” commented Eskom environmental manager Deidre Herbst, who has been involved with the Ingula property since pre-construction.
She added that the Ingula conservation efforts and the partnership is an international flagship from which many other utilities around the world can learn.
The statement further noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs welcomes any increase in areas under formal conservation management and has been highly supportive in assisting Eskom and the provinces through the declaration process.
This declaration, Eskom said, is a significant step for South Africa and was fully supported by Eskom’s leadership in recognition of the national role that Eskom plays towards safeguarding the environment.
“Eskom continues to contribute towards the protection of our natural heritage, ensuring long-term conservation of South Africa’s critical biodiversity”.