The area surrounding Cape St Francis Resort is a critical biodiversity area. The vegetation of the coastal dunes of the area enjoys high levels of endemic biodiversity which is currently being threatened by urban expansion and alien plant invasions.
Further habitat could be lost if plans are not in place to mitigate the impact.
That is why The Friends of the St Francis Nature Areas – FOSTER – was established 30 years ago. This voluntary organisation shoulders the bulk of the management role for the Seal Bay, Cape St Francis, Irma Booysen and Seal Point Nature Reserves. These wonderful green gems offer a choice of hiking trails through various coastal habitats from rocky shores, beaches and salt-stunted vegetation to fynbos thickets and coastal dune forests and need to be protected at the same time.
There is lots to notice around the Cape St Francis Resort. For example, when walking past the Cape St Francis lighthouse, you may notice a community of dwarf plants occupying a narrow (10-20-m band) of shell shingle immediately above the high water mark.
In the dry summer months, the vegetation appears stressed, no doubt from the low moisture content of the coarse and porous soil and exposure to relentless, salt-laden winds. In Spring however, after the winter growing season, the vegetation erupts in a blaze of colour.
Casual observers can be forgiven for not realising that the shell shingle vegetation of the region is unique; no other such plant community exists elsewhere along the Cape coast and therefore in the world. In addition, this harsh environment provides a home to eight endangered species which is possibly the highest concentration of such species in such a small area anywhere in the world.