Conservation in Action

As an organisation that helps protect the long-term ecological integrity, beauty and wildness Nature’s Valley is renowned for, NVT has a reputation for ensuring that development occurring in the area is done ethically, legally, and responsibly. To this end, NVT is also involved in the ongoing management and protection of municipal open spaces in Nature’s Valley and can rightfully pride itself in playing a minor but consistently effective role in ensuring that Nature’s Valley remains a tranquil haven for residents, holidaymakers, the broader community and wild inhabitants.

The overarching goal of our conservation-in-action activities is to ensure the long-term environmental integrity, and sustainable use, of the natural environment between Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay. Through its linkages with prominent national and international conservation programmes and its support of conventions, guidelines, policies and legislation, NVT aims to highlight the sensitivity and importance of the region’s biodiversity and to help prevent illegal or unsustainable use of our natural resources.

As an organisation, we enjoy representation on several forums including the Nature’s Valley Urban Conservancy Committee, the Nature’s Valley Baboon Management Forum, the Groot River Estuary Steering Committee, the Tsitsikamma Area Park Forum, the Tsitsikamma Conservation Forum, the Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum, the Garden Route Conservancy Forum, BirdLife Plettenberg Bay, and the Bitou Environmental Education Forum.

In the past, NVT also contributed significantly to the development of the Nature’s Valley Urban Conservancy, the expansion of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (as initiated by BirdLife South Africa) and the Plett Hope Spot programme launched by the Sustainable Seas Trust in South Africa.

Rescue network: terrestrial and coastal

Frequently, the NVT team is the first point of call for visitors and residents who encounter animals in distress.

NVT partners with the Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Radical Raptors to collect, stabilise and transport animals to centres where they can be cared for properly. To assess the success of the rehabilitation process, NVT also rings rehabilitated birds prior to release back into the wild. 

NVT is also part of the Plett Marine Animal Stranding Network coordinated by Chanel Visser (CapeNature -Senior Marine Field Ranger), and Dr Gwenith Penry, a marine scientist affiliated with the Nelson Mandela University and Bayworld Museum. This network is comprised of dedicated individuals (representing various organisations) who volunteer their time to respond to marine animals in distress and collect valuable samples and data on dead marine mammals. Marine mammals are protected under strict national and international laws. For this reason, NVT works closely with CapeNature, Bayworld PE, SANParks, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre to ensure a rapid response by a variety of specialists who are permitted to handle and assess animals in distress. Formalising and equipping this important network were made possible thanks to WWF South Africa’s recognition of NVT as a node that qualifies for minor grants.

WESSA Green Coast Award

Bitou achieved remarkable success at the 2023 Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa Blue Flag and Green Coast awards. Nature’s Valley not only maintained its Blue Flag status but also secured the prestigious Green Coastal Flag Status Award—a notable first for the town. The Nature’s Valley Green Coast initiative, led by NVT with support from Bitou Municipality and Plett Tourism, encompasses a range of nature-based activities for both visitors and residents. This accolade recognizes NVT’s efforts, including coordinated waterbird counts, observational monitoring of shorebird life cycles, marine debris and microplastics monitoring, and assessing the water quality of the Groot (Wes) River estuary. NVT’s environmental education activities, such as outdoor classes and Birding Connect projects, along with regular clean-up events involving local schools and community members, contribute to the town’s eco-friendly achievements. 

WESSA Blue Flag Programme

NVT is proud to be part of the WESSA Blue Flag Programme. Check out this lovely video that showcases the areas’ exceptional natural biodiversity, variety of habitats, marine ecology and bird life – they are Plett’s hidden gems. Plettenberg Bay’s five different biospheres and four unique habitats include rocky peninsula trails, archaeological sites and caves, the indigenous forests, fynbos, grasslands, tidal pools, estuaries, wetlands and rivers carving their way to the ocean down rocky ravines – a place to cherish and conserve.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Area expansion project (IBA’s)

BirdLife International’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) programme currently has 12 000 hotspots registered in the network, making it the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity. South Africa currently has 124 IBAs, covering over 14 million hectares of habitat for our threatened, endemic and congregatory birds. NVT, in partnership with BirdLife Plettenberg Bay and BirdLife South Africa, successfully applied for an extension of IBA SA098, the Tsitsikamma IBA. The original Tsitsikamma IBA included only parts of the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park, including the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, and stopped on the eastern side of the Groot River mouth. The extended Tsitsikamma – Plettenberg Bay IBA now runs through Nature’s Valley, along the coast, all the way up to and including Robberg Nature Reserve and MPA in Plettenberg Bay. This will bring much-needed global attention to the amazing diversity of birds in Bitou. Strict criteria need to be met to be included in an IBA – and NVT’s applied research on the Kelp Gulls, African Black Oystercatchers and endemic Fynbos birds have collected the data needed to trigger the thresholds for inclusion.

Penguin releases

World Oceans Day, observed annually on 8 June, recognises and celebrates the vitally important role of oceans and the diverse life they support. In support of the 2017 theme “Our Oceans, Our Future”, a number of NGOs teamed up to help create a brighter future for the “endangered” African penguin. This species has experienced rapid population declines over the past century as a result of the overexploitation of and competition for their food resources mostly due to commercial fishing, the modification of their typical nesting sites and oil spillages. Consequently, the African penguin is now listed as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and as a “protected species” in terms of South Africa’s National Environment Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004).

Adult and juvenile penguins are often observed in the waters around Plettenberg Bay and occasionally found injured, sick or moulting on beaches where they are vulnerable to predation. Since June 2017, NVT in collaboration with BirdLife South Africa, BirdLife Plettenberg Bay, the Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and CapeNature has released no fewer than fifty-four rehabilitated penguins back into the wild. Since these events serve as a platform for education and awareness, members of the public and learners are often invited to attend.

Check out our youtube page for videos of the releases we have done since 2017.

Baboon management

The Baboon Management Forum provides an interface for conservation authorities and residents to engage on issues relating to human/baboon conflict. This collaborative forum is composed of members from SANParks, CapeNature, the Nature’s Valley Rate Payers’ Association, the Bitou Municipality, interested residents and NVT. NVT has accumulated five years of data on the presence and invasion of Chacma baboons in Nature’s Valley. This data has been obtained with the aid of a baboon WhatsApp reporting group used by residents to alert their neighbours to baboon activity, which has proven to be very important in alerting homeowners and residents to baboon movement and to take the necessary precautions when baboons are close by.

Currently, NVT, in conjunction with the Nature’s Valley Ratepayers’ Association, is investigating improved waste management practices, particularly the use of baboon- and monkey-proof bins in the village. The intention here is to ensure a safer environment for both the baboons and the residents with whom they have to co-exist.

Plett Hope Spot

Hope Spots are special conservation areas that are critical to the health of the ocean, Earth’s blue heart. World-famous marine conservationist Dr Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue International is committed to developing Hope Spots around the world, with fifty Hope Spots already in existence. Networks of Hope Spots maintain biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitats and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive. Hope Spots are good for the ocean, which means they are good for us.

By engaging government, businesses, schools, research organisations, universities, civil society and the media, Hope Spots effect significant changes so that future generations can thrive on a healthy planet, with a healthy ocean.