The Ingula Nature Reserve, created to conserve the unique wetland and high altitude grassland area that hosts State-owned power utility Eskom’s Ingula pumped storage scheme, has been included in the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
The addition of the wetland to the list is the culmination of many years of hard work by Eskom and its partners BirdLife South Africa and the Middelpunt Wetland Trust.
The Ingula Nature Reserve is the twenty-seventh official Ramsar site in South Africa. It is one of the largest industry-owned nature reserves in the country.
The nature reserve is located within severely threatened ecosystems of grasslands, wetlands and escarpment forests and is host to several hundred species of flora, birds, reptiles and mammals.
The reserve, high in the Drakensberg, and straddling the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provincial borders, has received international acclaim, demonstrating how industry and nongovernmental organisations can cooperate to achieve environmental conservation sustainably, Eskom said in a statement on May 7.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment required that Eskom conserve the unique wetland and high altitude grassland area, and the utility ensured the formal protection of the 8 084 ha with the formal declaration as a Nature Reserve in May 2018.
“This honour cements Eskom’s and its partners’ commitment to environmental sustainability and shows that industry can co-exist sustainably with the environment. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment have been very supportive in the process,” said Eskom Generation environmental manager Deidre Herbst.
The inclusion of the Ingula Nature Reserve in the International Ramsar Convention demonstrates Eskom’s commitment to South African environmental sustainability, and contributes towards South Africa’s conservation targets by protecting the biodiversity, in particular threatened, rare and endemic species indigenous to the area, she said.
“A Ramsar designation elevates Eskom to an acknowledged international power utility, contributing directly towards environmental sustainability and meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”