“The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is pro-actively implementing water conservation efforts by reducing its water consumption due to the drought experienced by the Nelson Mandela Bay area,” says Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC’s Head of Marketing, Brand and Communications.
The CDC has a water wise garden at its head office – CDC Business Centre, comprising of self-sustainable plants that are adaptable to survive without additional watering. The plants in the CDC garden are all indigenous and come from the 11 500 hectare Special Economic Zone (SEZ). “As per our policy for the sustainability of the Coega SEZ, investors are not permitted to plant any exotic plants in the SEZ,” says Andrea Shirley, CDC Environmental Project Manager.
The various plants that are found in the garden include a range of succulents such as Portulacaria afra (“spekboom”), Gasteria bicolor (“beestong”) and Euphorbia clava, cycads, as well as various aloe species.
“With the announcement of the water restrictions in the Bay area, it is part of the CDC’s duty as a responsible corporate citizen to implement innovative measures in order to reduce water consumption”, adds Andrea.
The climate at the Coega SEZ is significantly different from that within the rest of the NMBM. Coega is within a rain shadow with an annual precipitation approximately 300mm per annum less than the rest of the Metropolitan area.
The plants naturally occurring are thus more drought tolerant and many have important landscaping functions. The urban form being pursued by the SEZ in its design philosophy is thus heavily influenced by biomimicry, where we attempt to incorporate natural processes in the built environment forms, including that of landscaping and architecture.
“The manner in which the garden is self-sustainable is through the cluster and fertilizing concept. ‘The cluster concept is when plants compete for space to grow therefore constantly encouraging growth amongst the plants without having to water them,” adds Andrea.
The fertilizing concept stems from having the weaver birds in the trees and their excretion falls into the ground therefore fertilizing the soil. Another concept that will soon be implemented in the CDC garden is placing stones in between the plants. This will reduce evaporation and create a habitat for plants, as any rainfall will stay locked in.