Prior to commencing construction, 60 varieties of plant species were carefully removed and then replanted.
When the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) started construction on the N7 in 2016, it made sure that its efforts to improve connectivity through an improved road network would not harm the natural environment.
This project involved the upgrade of the N7 section 1 between Philadelphia and Kalbaskraal, from a single to a dual carriageway freeway.
This section of the road runs through the Malmesbury Renosterveld and is home to an extensive range of indigenous vegetation.
Environment does not suffer
Prior to commencing construction, the team carefully removed nearly 60 varieties of plant species, the majority of which were Fynbos and bulb species, which were temporarily housed in nurseries before being re-introduced into a 22-hectare receptor area adjacent to the N7.
Freddie Henning, Resident Engineer from ERO Engineers, said: “SANRAL’s agreement with environmentalists entailed a trade-off, where for every hectare of indigenous ground that would be used for the widening of the N7, SANRAL would give six hectares of receptor area back to Cape Nature.”
As construction is completed, plants are systematically reintroduced to their natural environment and where the space in the road reserve does not permit this, the plants were translocated to the receptor area.
Large quantities of alien vegetation were cleared to make room for indigenous plant species in the receptor area.
Highest levels of care taken
“A major challenge was the nearly non-existent rainfall. However, with some creativity and the use of water collection tanks, we were able to water the plants only when necessary, to ensure their survival,” said Ian Anderson, Rehabilitation Specialist from Vula Environmental Services, who worked with SANRAL to ensure the highest levels of environmental responsibility at all times.
“The plants were translocated during winter, in order for them to adjust to the new environment so that they are strong and able to thrive during the hot summer months,” said Anderson.
“It is important that we maintain a healthy balance that will ensure that infrastructure upgrades like these can co-exist harmoniously with our natural environment. I believe that we are doing just that, and I am proud of SANRAL’s excellent track record in working with environmental specialists, to make sure we always give back to the environment, way more than we ever take out,” said Randall Cable, SANRAL Western Region Manager.