environment sustainability

Are we losing Verlorenvlei?

This is a cross-post from Andreas Spath who has a PhD in geochemistry and manages Lobby Books, the independent book shop at Idasa’s Cape Town Democracy Centre. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

You and I will be forgiven for never having heard of Verlorenvlei, but Ms Susan Shabangu should not be. She is, after all, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and it was her department that recently issued a prospecting license for tungsten ore that could result in the destruction of this internationally significant wetland system near the West Coast town of Elands Bay. When questioned at a meeting of the Cape Town Press Club last week, Shabangu claimed ignorance of both Verlorenvlei and the prospecting licence.

Let’s enlighten the minister and ourselves. Verlorenvlei is a coastal freshwater lake – one of the largest in the country – fringed by reedswamps and connected to the ocean via