What is at stake?
From the Orange River to Cape Columbine, hundreds of kilometres of South Africa’s West Coast are being mined, or have been earmarked for mining. These industrial-scale extractions have lasting consequences for local communities, fisheries and the natural environment, for generations to come.
South Africa’s West Coast is part of the Cape Floristic Region and inside the Fynbos biome, and home to thousands of species of unique plants, most of which are found nowhere else in the world. UNESCO deemed the Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas World Heritage Sites including the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and the Namaqua National Park. The whole area is a biodiversity hotspot with the largest concentration of succulent plants in the world.
Cold, nutrient rich waters upwelling along the West Coast fuel high rates of phytoplankton growth that sustain the highly productive Benguela ecosystem.
These interconnected ecosystems are a haven for marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals, fish, birds, land-mammals, reptiles, plant and unique insect and invertebrate habitats.
The people of the West Coast have also been adversely affected by the mining industry. Mining threatens livelihoods and subverts the rights of ordinary South African citizens. Extractive, single-use mining is not sustainable. It destroys long-term alternatives, such as ecotourism or industries that use nature-based solutions. It prohibits coastal access for tourists, local communities and traditional fishers. It tramples on First Nations’ cultural rights.
There are currently more than 30 prospecting and mining applications on the West Coast and scores of active mines.
But there is hope. Protect The West Coast invites the public and private sectors in South Africa to join us in Protecting the West Coast. Its very future depends on us.