Ingquza Hill lies within the northern section of the Wild Coast. The most prominent geographical and topographical feature is the rugged plateau of the Msikaba sandstone formation which is congruent with the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. The rugged plateau of the Msikaba sandstone formation, is deeply incised by narrow river gorges and limited sandy beaches, which forming the ‘Tablelands’. In some parts this leads to dramatic landforms such as Waterfall Bluff and Cathedral Rock. The formation is characterized by shallow, highly leached, acidic, sandy soils of low production potential but which are for the most part good for grazing in the summer months only.
The sandstone formation comes to a clear cut termination at the Egoso fault, which lies just north of Mbotyi and extends 18km inland from the coast. The Karoo Super Group (comprising shale, mudstones and sandstones with dolomite intrusions) features beyond this point southwards. The landform between Mbotyi and Port St Johns is more varied but generally poor, shallow and highly susceptible to erosion.
There are a range of environmental issues that affect the Wild Coast as a whole, including Ingquza Hill. These include the following:
- widespread poverty.
- over exploitation of terrestrial resources due to extraction and or changes in land use leading to:
- loss of biodiversity, including unmanaged species harvesting, unmanaged harvesting of mangrove forests and other forest types which occur primarily as a result of sand mining.
- soil erosion, leading to silting of rivers and estuaries
- Spread of invasive alien species, which in turn has the potential to disrupt the functioning of natural ecosystems.
- poorly controlled and/or ill-planned agricultural expansion, settlement expansion and illegal cottage developments;
- over exploitation of marine resources, leading to local extinctions, disruption to naturalecosystems functioning and loss of sensitive coastal habitats;
- fragmentation of riverine and coastal dune forests and other habitats through development;
- visual impacts associated with illegal developments, land use change and the disruptions/degradation of habitats
- Lack of primary biophysical information.
The Ingquza Hill area has good tourist potential. The undulating plains, Savannah grasslands and the unspoilt coast combine to make striking scenic beauty. Places such as Msikaba, Mkhambathi, Mbotyi and the mainland as well as the Magwa falls, Magwa Tea and the Mkhambathi Game Reserve also offer great opportunities. The unspoilt environment that covers the coastal area and indigenous forests could be developed as major attractions for tourism.
There is a strong cultural and historic heritage in this area. Most notable is Ngquza where innocent people were gunned down by the apartheid regime. The Pondoland culture and its history, which remains strong, could be developed and marketed as a major tourism product. This could also form part of the rural tourism network linked with other tourism products within and outside the municipal area.
Economy versus Development
It is impossible to separate economic development issues from environmental issues. Many forms of unsustainable development models and approaches erode the environmental resources upon which they are based and environmental degradation can undermine economic development. It is therefore essential to develop a balance between utilisation of environmental resources and development which will ensure that environmental resources are conserved for future generations.
It is estimated that there are 60 000ha of indigenous forest in the Wild Coast coastal belt and that many areas of forest are relatively undisturbed. These forest habitats generally have high species diversity and high levels of endemism and are therefore of high conservation value. This diversity is reflected in the forest regions of Ingquza Hill which is home to dune forests, swamp forests, Pondoland Coastal Forest, South Coast Forest and Coast Scarp Forest. Forests are generally heavily used by local communities and receive little protection due to lack of formal control. Subsistence agriculture is the predominant form of land use in the Ingquza Hill area. There are veld fires that are uncontrolled and the burning of grassland for grazing purposes which generally occur with little or no formal control.
Ingquza Hill has got vast tracts of land and coastal line that have not yet been exploited. This land is a source of economic benefit providing proper studies on exploitable resources are conducted and economic development planned accordingly. Tourism, especially eco tourism also has substantial potential to revive the economy of the municipality and make it a higher contributor to the Provincial GDP. Tourism development has the potential to threaten the environment and biodiversity if not implemented in accordance with sound environmental planning principles. It is therefore essential that development be implemented in such a way that the environment is protected, whilst advancing economic and social development.