KENILWORTH RACECOURSE Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area was not always conserved, in actual fact much of the natural veld was inadvertently protected from degradation by the South African Turf Club . The land-use proved amenable to the conservation of this natural asset, ever since the area was proclaimed a racecourse in 1882. Kenilworth is the oldest racecourse in the country and is home to the well known, annual J&B Met. The J&B Met was originally known as the Metropolitan Mile, and it dates back as far as 1883, just after the establishment of the area as a racecourse! Part of the grounds was previously a Cape Quitrent farm, parts of this area have over time been incorporated into the conservation area, while the bulk of it was established in 1997, as the only commercial horse quarantine station in South Africa! As is well known, fire is an integral component of the Fynbos ecosystem, however parts of the conservation area have not burnt in over a hundred years, with limited burns having been documented in 1944 and 1986. In 1882, the conservation area was identified as one of 35 core botanical sites in the country, sadly this did not prevent the extinction ofErica turgida in the wild in the early 1970’s, due to a development adjacent to Kenilworth Racecourse obliterating the last remaining population. Then in June and September 1989, the conservation value of the racecourse was highlighted by Dr Clive McDowell in articles in the Veld and Flora Journal, where he emphasised the importance of the vegetation of the site and later described the fauna present. L. Browne explored aspects of the conservation of the vegetation present as part of her MSc thesis; as a result of her efforts, together with Dr McDowell, she was commissioned by the Cape Town City Council and the South African Nature Foundation to compile a management plan for the racecourse. The plan was completed in May 1991 and accepted by the City Council, but due to a lack of funds and commitment it was not implemented. At some point between 1991 and 2005 CapeNature took over the management of the conservation area on an ad-hoc basis, and performed a controlled burn in 2005. Then in 2006 a management agreement was established between the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management Branch, Gold Circle and CapeNature; a conservation management team was put in place, and KRCA was formed. Since the establishment of the KRCA in 2006, much of the area has been rehabilitated to its former glory, with rehabilitation continuing at present and scheduled fires being performed when necessary and possible. Much of the alien vegetation that was once present has been removed, with continued follow up work being done regularly. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.