When we took on the upgrade of the N7 between Melkbos and Atlantis, we were very careful in looking after the Fynbos.
Fynbos is a kind of shrubbery and heathlands that is found in the coastal plains and mountains of South Africa. The name was derived from the Dutch word ‘ fijnbosch’ meaning fine leafed bush. This vegetation is a main component of the Cape floristic region, which has different forms of Fynbos, mainly karroid shrubland, renosterveld, various thicket types and forest.
Before we took on the project, we looked into the vegetation along the main route to Namibia before construction started. Because Fynbos has a high uniqueness and more than two-thirds of its species cannot be found elsewhere, it is essential that we preserve its habitat correctly.
Did you know, Cape Fynbos is more advanced than any other vegetation in the world?
To ensure the area was protected, a botanical study was done identifying an area of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos near the planned Melkbos Interchange that was also a transition?to the Swartland Shale Renosterveld variety.
We discovered that a substantial portion would be destroyed during the upgrade and would reduce the loss of this special species, which is on the critically endangered list. Fynbos is a highly threatened vegetation type with more than 2000 species. Major threats include invasions by exotic trees, agricultural and urban development, siviculture, climate change and frequent fires. They need all the help they can get.
They did not need to make a choice between upgrading the highway and improving traffic flows and road safety, or conserving the environment, but rather did some smart planning and adopted an alternative road alignment.
We were faced with making a decision between upgrading the highway and improving traffic flow or conserving the environment. We decided to do both, with the help of proper planning from engineers. Because of our dedication to the cause, me managed to save 25 000m2 of highly sensitive vegetation and preserve the great landscapes of surrounding Fynbos.