The Berg River Estuary on which the town of Velddrif is situated is unique for various reasons. The Berg River has its origin in the Franchhoek Mountains and flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Laaiplek. It is one of three estuaries on the SA West Coast.
The estuary is tidal and has a flood plain of 61 km². It supports exceptional populations of plant and animal species. 210 bird species of which 25 are nationally important, as well as 5 Red Data species are to be found here. The estuary is a listed IBA (Important Birding Area) with BirdLife SA. 35 fish species were identified here, 80% of these use the estuary as a nursery.
A large variety of insects and invertebrate species (crabs and prawns) occur in the wetlands and serve as an important source of food for the bird and fish populations. With 10 distinct plant communities, the mudflats offer rich feeding grounds and the reed beds offer many breeding places. Plant roots serve as a filter system to clean the water of most sediments before it flows into the sea.
The estuary has enormous economic significance as it accommodates a fishing harbour and a bokkom industry on its bank. Salt pans can be seen from the road, often with flocks of flamingos in them. It is possible to tour the salt works on Thursdays.
Recreational opportunities are present in the form of:
- Boat and bank angling (with the necessary permits and certificates)
- Water sports
- Bird watching
- Appreciation of scenery and nature
- Leisurely lunches at several spots along the banks of the estuary
The Berg River Estuary is managed by the Berg River Estuary Management Forum with many role players from government and civil society. They aim to have the estuary declared a RAMSAR site which will give it international recognition as an important wetland.