For ease of reference and due to the length of the last report, we have subdivided 7 of 7 into 3 separate documents. Herewith the first of the 3 final sections.
There are 2 separate issues involved. Firstly, the question of whether any part of the Greyton Commonage should be sold, which would prevent TWKM or the community ever having any influence over future uses of the land. Secondly, there are alternative or additional uses for the Commonage, that are briefly discussed below.
Alienation of the 235 ha land area
Government policy only permits the alienation of municipal Commonage for development purposes that will not result in any loss of local people’s formal and informal rights, and where there is substantial evidence that the development enjoys the wide support of local residents.
Alternative to alienation
The only alternative to outright purchase of the land is a renewable lease, possibly reverting to municipal ownership after say 50 years. It is considered that the leasehold cost should reflect the actual land areas used for agricultural purposes, thus allowing possible additional uses in the areas not suitable for intensive agriculture, for example conservation, recreation, specific community projects and tourist-related uses. Such a compromise seems to represent the spirit of Government policy on Commonages, but at the same time encourages viable and sustainable business ventures such as specialised farming. Furthermore, the future asset value of the land is retained for the benefit of the municipality and the community.
Alternative agricultural projects:
- Intensive fruit farming in the Overberg, particularly in the Riviersonderend river valley, has expanded significantly during recent years, largely for the export market. To be viable, it is said that 100-150 ha minimum are needed, water is essential (up to 6000 m³ per hectare per annum) and labour, some of which is seasonal, must be suitable for training and mentoring. The soil requirements have been assessed and confirmed by the Department of Agriculture to be suitable. Yet to be done is a detailed plan for the preferred areas to be cultivated and the layout of infrastructure and services.
- The grazing of cattle as practised on the Commonage now, where the land is partially degraded and water is very limited, is only just viable, and needs only limited labour. However, intensive dairy farming is possible throughout this area on land transformed totally to grassland, with adequate water, but labour requirements are also limited.
- Pomology farming which is the preferred use for a significant part of the project land is established in the area as a viable business, but there is limited suitable land available, and water rights are often not obtainable. Labour requirements, both permanent and seasonal, are significantly higher. The successful training and mentoring of local persons could obviate the common process of migrant labour, thus removing the necessity of providing housing and additional municipal services, in an area already with a high rate of unemployment and very limited services.
- Honeybush harvesting based on existing areas of natural growth could assist the expansion of the existing small-scale business in Genadendal.
- Fynbos farming may be an alternative for the future with lower water needs and a hotter climate.
- Domestic firewood management using a community woodlot would ensure sufficient firewood available for the whole community.
Other alternative activities:
- Residential housing would probably not be viable because of the costs involved in providing full municipal services (maybe including tarring of part of the Riviersonderend road), the regular inundation and possible flash flooding from the Gobos and Sonderend rivers. Housing development would also not comply with municipal policy, and would be outside the urban edge.
- Recreational activities could be considered in parts of the area not being farmed, including grazing for horses and donkeys, MTB biking, walking, horse riding, dog exercising, camping site, birding, picnics.
- Tourism-related development might be considered for the longer term, particularly along the Sonderend River, possibly an energy-efficient, low density, high quality tourist lodge.
The establishment of a biological corridor from north to south would connect the different segments of nature reserve and help to ensure the long-term viability whilst also serving as a buffer zone & green lung between the proposed commonage agricultural development and the residential areas of Greyton village.
No-Go alternative Activities now in the proposed project area include some of the above recreations and some local small farmers use the land for grazing. Alien vegetation has been partly cleared. Mature wood has been harvested. There is at least one sand pit. With the exception of bike trails, the area is not used much by tourists.
We will keep you informed.
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