One of the most popular destinations to enjoy snowfall in the Western Cape has landed itself in hot water following an investigation by the Green Scorpions.

The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve and an adjoining farm in the Ceres area have been found to have caused serious degradation to an extremely sensitive biodiversity habitat.

“The site inspections confirm that significant degradation of the environment has taken place through the clearing of indigenous vegetation and the continuous use of the informal roads in question.  The department has now instructed the land owners, amongst other things, to immediately cease the activities causing or having caused the degradation of the environment, cease vehicular drive activities not related to the Protea harvesting on the road, which is situated above the 1280 meter split from the Spekrivierkloof road to the height of 1 880 meters,” says the Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department’s Rudolf Van Jaarsveldt.

The upper slopes of the Matroosberg supports an area specific range of Fynbos with various threatened and rare plant and animal species of conservation concern.

The bulldozing of a field for parking is among the reasons for the strict directive that has been issued.

Failure to comply with the directive on certain activities, could mean jail time of up to 10 years or a fine of up to R10 million.

“The department has now instructed the land owners, amongst other things, to submit to the department for approval within 30 calendar days of receipt of the directive a rehabilitation plan compiled by a suitable, qualified independent environmental assessment practitioner for the 4×4 roads and the parking area.” says Van Jaarsveldt.

Despite numerous attempts to obtain comment from the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, SABC News received no response.

Heavy snowfall on Matroosberg: