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As the World Heritage Site’s infrastructure plans roll out throughout iSimangaliso, the next area earmarked for a dramatic facelift is the Lake St Lucia Estuary precinct – an integral and highly valued part of iSimangaliso, both from an ecological and tourism perspective.
The park says the estuary is by far the most-visited part of the Park, freely accessible to all, with millions of locals and international visitors having appreciated the estuary’s natural beauty over several generations.
Going forward 15 projects, as detailed in the below map, will aim to rehabilitate and upgrade this section of the Park, specifically to address ecological issues in and around the estuary and beaches, improve ecological functioning, and modernise day-visitor facilities – including public-use areas from the estuary mouth to the Siyabonga Centre near the bridge into the town of St Lucia.
The park says all of the developments are aimed at aiding in the rehabilitation and restoration of disturbed areas along the estuary banks and the beach environments, while simultaneously relieving congestion within these areas by providing focus areas for infrastructure and the movement of visitors. Ablutions and viewpoints will also accommodate disabled users.
Environmental authorization process
According to the Park, three separate Basic Assessments need to be undertaken concurrently within one Basic Assessment process in relation to proposed redevelopment of the St Lucia Estuary Precinct and with the public invited to participate – with the consultation process open until 20 June 2016.
To register as an Interested and/or Affected Party and to obtain further information related to the proposed redevelopment, contact ACER (Africa) Environmental Consultants: Giles Churchill; Tel: 035 340 2715; E-mail: email@example.com.
Highlighting the delicate balance between conserve nature against the effects of urban and consumer development, iSimangaliso has just won a court dispute against a breach threatening the St Lucia Estuary. The application was brought to the high court by the UCOSP and two farmers. The breach enabled the draining of backwater flooding on certain low-lying farms that made up less than 94ha or 1% of the 9 427ha of land under sugarcane on the uMfolozi floodplain, but according to Judge Mohini Moodley the initial ruling had run ts course and the application was dismissed.
iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis says, “Finally, we can add the finer details and finishing touches to a project that has been 15 years in the making. Until now, we have concentrated hard on the foundations – including building relationships, empowering local communities, settling land claims, fencing, alien plant clearing, animal reintroductions, regularisation of commercial activities, creation of co-management structures and much more that goes on unseen in the creation of a great African conservation-based tourism destination.
“During recent years, we have been able to capitalise on this with the construction of visitor facilities such as new gates, hides, board walks and viewing decks. It is rewarding for us and the public to see the Park take shape as envisioned.”
Key developments taking place include:
– The proposed redevelopment of the St Lucia Estuary precinct is anticipated to include the following:
– Extend the current Estuary boardwalk, with new ablution facilities; construction of a meet and greet zone; paving of surfaces; improved parking areas.
– St Lucia Ski-Boat Club facilities upgrade with additional parking to the west of the Ski-Boat Club.
– Sugar Loaf Jetty – create a formalised entrance to pedestrian trail and picnic area with the introduction of trail identifying signage.
Honeymoon Bend – provide additional grassed picnic areas; upgrade existing and build additional ablution facilities; construction of access; create a trail path from Honeymoon Bend to link to Sugar Loaf
– Sunset Jetty – additional parking including two bus parking bays; formalise areas for informal and formal traders; upgrade ablution facilities including disabled access.
– Igwalagwala Trail – create new parking and ablutions.
– Estuary View Boardwalk – construction of a 1.5 metre wide by ± 1.5 km long concrete Park Boardwalk linking Siyabonga to Honeymoon Bend along the estuary, with links from the proposed boardwalk to the existing bridge into St Lucia town, Siyabonga Centre and Igwalagwala Trail; proposing a 1.5m wide ‘Clip on’ Viewing Deck onto the existing bridge; formalised craft market near the Siyabonga Centre for informal traders; a new trail to link up with the existing trail.
– iSimangaliso South Hiking Trails network to create new linkages with existing self-guided birding and game trails.