The Western half of Intaka Island is made up of constructed wetlands which mainly serve the needs for water purification, habitat for breeding water birds, and the recreation and education of visitors. The Eastern half consists of seasonal pans and sand plain fynbos which are both rare habitat types in great need of conservation. The management approach to these two areas needs to be different in order to meet their objectives.
The Century City Property Owners’ (CCPOA) manage Intaka Island and is monitored and guided by the Intaka Island Blouvlei Environmental Committee. This committee is made up of representatives of the CCPOA, the environmental manager, Louise de Roubaix, and various environmental specialists including a botanist, an ornithologist, an environmental manager from the City of Cape Town and a member from Cape Nature.
This group meets on a monthly basis and provides their expertise in the implementation of the EMP for Intaka Island.
Environmental Management Plan
The setting aside of land for a nature reserve is only the first step in a conservation process. The next step is to draw up an environmental management plan (EMP), which is a working document and is regularly updated.
Intaka Island had EMPs for the construction and development phases of the reserve, and now has a relatively new EMP for the operational phase. The bulk of the EMP relates to 10 explicit environmental goals which cover the aims of Intaka Island.
Intaka Island’s wetlands and canals demonstrate how engineering and natural processes can be used to improve the conservation of water.
The South Western half of Intaka Island was originally known as the Sewe Pannietjies before it was redesigned into four distinct ponds (called cells) with indigenous wetland vegetation. These constructed cells fulfil the natural role of a wetland, which is to filter and clean water.
The water is sourced from the 7km of canals that flow around Intaka Island and Century City, and is pumped daily into the constructed wetlands through the four cells where it is cleaned before being returned to the canal system.
Cell 1 & 2
The first two cells are dominated by dense cape reed beds (Phragmites). These fast-growing plants are capable of absorbing large amounts of phosphate and other nutrients, thus starting the cleaning process.
The surface area of this cell is quite large and shallow, and so allows for the growth of reeds and for oxygen to re-enter the water. The reed beds also create a habitat for a large number of birds.
This cell is very different from the first two in that it is relatively large and deep, comprising mainly of open water. This is done to expose the water to wind, which aids the oxygenation process of bacteria that break down the nitrogenous compounds that flourish in this open water.
Cell 3 is also home to the award winning heronries (wooded islands), which are designed to encourage birds to roost and breed.
The last cell is once again different from the other cells in that is a very shallow marshland, with high diversity of vegetation that adds the final step to the water “scrubbing” process before the water re-enters the canal system.
the canal system is approximately 7km long
with an average depth of 1.6m
water flows by gravity though the wetlands, completing a round trip in approximately 65 days.
There are 212 different species of indigenous plants (plants of Sand plain fynbos) that can be found on Intaka Island, many of which produce attractive flowers from late winter to early summer. Twenty four of these plants are on the Red Data list, that is, they are rare and threated with extinction Cape Flats.
Sand Fynbos (CFSF), previously known as Sand Plain Fynbos, is a critically endangered vegetation type that occurs only within the city of Cape Town. Less than 1% of this unique lowland Fynbos vegetation is conserved. Intaka Island is one of the few places that you can still experience this endemic veldt.
Intaka boasts 120 different bird species in a safe, easy-to-reach area due to the diversity of Intaka Islands 7 different habitats. The terrestrial habitat of fynbos, shrubs and grasses attracts birds like the Cape Francolin, Weavers and Cape Sparrows. The shrub areas provide safe foraging areas for Cape White-Eyes, Robin Chats and Spotted Prinias while the open water is suitable for the Cape Shoveller, Yellow Billed Duck, Red Knobbed Coot and Moorhen. Reed Beds provide food and nesting for the Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Masked Weaver, Red Bishop and Levaillant’s Cisticola.
With bird-watching being one of the fastest growing recreational activities, Intaka Island offers birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts in general a unique opportunity to discover and study our birds up close in their natural habitat.
A number of birds also make use of the man made heronries on Intaka Island for breeding and roosting. These heronries have been recognized internationally for both their simple construction and success at attracting birds.