Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve
More information about the Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve is on the Royal Ascot website.
  Click here to go to Royal Ascot website - www.royalascot.co.za
Location
The Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve (MRNR) is situated to the east of the residential development known as Royal Ascot in Milnerton. To the east of the MCA are the Gold Circle stables and horse training facilities, and beyond this the semi-industrial area of Montague Gardens. Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area
The MRNR is approximately 17.6ha in size and is divided into two portions, a northern area and a larger southern area. The two areas have always been physically separated - in the past by the horse racing track, and today by residential development. Historically this now remnant natural veld would have been connected to the Rietvlei wetland complex.
Aerial photo (2005) showing northern (top right)
 and southern (center of pic) conservation areas
Biodiversity Value
During the 1980’s scientists first realized that Milnerton Racecourse was botanically a very important site. Whereas much of the fynbos in this coastal area had disappeared under developments or as result of the invasion of alien vegetation, the fynbos within the confines of the racecourse was still relatively untouched.
What makes it relatively unique is that it has an unusual geology consisting of neutral to slightly acidic sand on ferricrete. This results in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos with elements of West Coast Strandveld with exceptionally high diversity relative to the size of the conservation area. It is one of the last natural habitats situated on ferricretes, this substrate type is fairly localised (hence the name Ysterplaat), but has been largely built over.
There are 232 recorded plant species in the MRNR; of these 12 have “Red Data” status including Cliffortia ericifolia, Hermannia procumbens ssp. procumbens, Leucadendron levisanus, Acrolophia bolusii and Lampranthus stenus (largest known population).
There are also two small wetlands in the area – one just south of Sandown Crescent in the southern area and one adjacent to The Met in the northern area; during winter several more small temporary wetlands develop. All of this provides a wonderful habitat for a variety of bird life, more than 70 species have been recorded. Thus far at least 10 species of butterflies and moths have been recorded. There used to be a small population of steenbok in the area, but they seem to have disappeared; there are a number of grysbok in both northern and southern areas.
Management
Because of the botanical importance of this conservation area, botanists recommended that the southern portion still within the confines of the racetrack not be opened to the public. The northern portion is accessible to the public where there is a footpath – originally people were allowed to take dogs on a leash through this area, but so many people abused this privilege and allowed dogs to run free that dogs are now no longer allowed there.
The MRNR is managed by an Environmental Management Committee (EMC) consisting of representatives from the City, the Royal Ascot Master Property Owners Association, Gold Circle, Cape Bird Club, Friends of Rietvlei and interested local residents.
More information about the Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve is on the Royal Ascot website.
  Click here to go to Royal Ascot website - www.royalascot.co.za
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