Areas and Places

'Reserve of the Year', Bracken Nature Reserve is blossoming

The City’s Bracken Nature Reserve has gone from being largely a landfill site to one of the city’s leading environmental spaces, providing ideal opportunities for education, for communities to come together, and for rare species to flourish.


Following a decade of investment by the City of Cape Town and its passionate staff, the once deteriorated and deserted Bracken Nature Reserve has blossomed into one of the city’s leading environmental spaces. It has just been named ‘Reserve of the Year’ by the City’s Environmental Resource Management Department.

Over the years, the City has invested more than R2 million for the rehabilitation and restoration of the Bracken Nature Reserve so that this inclusive space can contribute to a sustainable future which residents, as well as animals and plant species, can enjoy.

For many years prior to the restoration, part of the reserve was used as a landfill site, subsequently leaving the rest of the space largely abandoned and rundown. However, the will and the vision existed to transform this reserve.

“It would be remiss of me not to mention one key role player in particular. At the time, Ms Tshepo Mamabolo, was doing a City internship at the reserve. With the support of the reserve team, she dedicated her passion and energy to transforming the site into what it is today. Today, Ms Mamabolo is the area coordinator,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

The rehabilitation project started with the planting of 60 indigenous trees including, karee, real yellowwood, wild peach, Cape ash, wild camphor and milkwood, which are still growing well.

Furthermore, this 36 ha reserve is home to Swartland granite renosterveld and Cape sand fynbos, both of which suffer a dearth of conservation consideration. More than 300 plant species have been identified here, of which 10 are endemic to Cape Town and threatened with extinction.

Important species include cowslip (Lachenalia aloides) and the canary yellow vygie (Lampranthus glaucus). The reserve also supports a great diversity of wildlife. Regularly sighted birds are the red-capped lark, black-shouldered kite, peregrine falcon and southern double-collared sunbird. Other mammal species found in the reserve include the small grey mongoose and a myriad of rodents and reptiles.

“Currently there is only one known plant of the critically endangered Kraaifontein spiderhead (Serruria furcellata) remaining naturally in the wild in Northpine. The reserve has been surveyed and found to have great potential as a receptor site for this critically endangered species. Cuttings from the original plant were therefore planted and, to date, 20 healthy plants are conserved at the reserve. In an attempt to save the species, a few other sites have also been surveyed, and Haasendal Conservation Area was also recognised as one of the two suitable sites. We are serious about building a sustainable future for residents and natural species,” said Councillor Van Der Merwe.

The City manages 16 nature reserves across Cape Town. During the 2013/2014 financial year, visitor numbers to City reserves increased by 32% to 351 594 visitors (2012/2013: 266 195 visitors). This can be attributed to the sound management of the reserves, the dedicated maintenance of the reserve facilities, and an innovative and creative approach to making reserves inclusive and sustainable public green spaces.

“The tremendous turnaround of the Bracken Nature Reserve is a good example of how, when the City sows the seeds of collaborative partnerships, the community and the surrounding environment will reap the benefits. It is of paramount importance that we place a higher financial and environmental value on our nature reserves so that, together, we can make progress possible in building a sustainable future,” said Councillor Van Der Merwe.