Guidelines and Regulations
The wild, isolated location of the village and the regulations affecting it have led to essential guidelines to help property owners and visitors alike
Baboon Issues And Precautions
Baboon house invasions can occur without warning. They can be extremely unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. ADT (0810378656) and/or the Baboon Monitors will assist in evicting baboons.
- Please read the baboon management guide.
- Keep food out of sight.
- Close all windows and lock doors when leaving residences.
- Chase baboons away by making a loud noise or spraying them with water.
- Do not approach them inside a home unless they have an escape route and are not feeding.
- Request a link to join the NV Baboon Alerts WhatsApp group to be warned of, and to report baboon movements. 0445316820
- Put out garbage early only on Fridays (plus Tuesdays between 14 Dec & 22 Jan). All garbage to be in a ‘wheely bin’ secured with cords or clips.
- At all other times place black bags inside the waste transfer station near the lagoon end of Forest Drive.
- Given the impact of baboon raids on homes, the NVRA and Nature’s Valley Trust supported an initiative by the community to apply to the Bitou Municipality to establish a Natures Valley Special Rating Area with particular emphasis on managing problematic baboon activity in the village through the deployment of baboon monitors. Pages 8, 14, 16 & 17 of the SRA Business Plan provide further information. The NV SRA was approved early in 2023 and came into practical effect in August 2023.
- The long exposed beach – unlike the protected lagoon – is dangerous for swimming
- Strong waves cause sand bars, deep channels and very powerful rip currents (watch video) in these channels
- Rip currents are often unexpected and hazardous, especially during outgoing tide
- Rips are typically darker blue with choppy, churning water and foam moving seaward
- No children should ever swim in the sea without supervision
- Weak and non swimmers should not enter the sea
- Even strong swimmers should remain on safe sandbanks and avoid channels
- The beach from the river mouth to the East is considered especially unsafe for swimming. The Groot and Salt River mouths are particularly dangerous after heavy rain
- If caught in a rip current, do not fight it. Try to remain calm, keep your head above water, wave a hand to attract attention and wait until the current weakens or stops which it always will do. Then swim ashore or tread water until help arrives
- If you see someone in trouble do not swim after that person. Throw anything that floats towards him or her and call Sea Rescue on 082 990 5975
- From 1 December to 31 January Beach No. 4 has Blue Flag status with lifeguards 7am to 5pm
National Sea Rescue (Emergency Plettenberg Bay Office 0829905975)
The Lagoon And River Mouth
Whilst the Groot River is in a near-pristine condition, the lagoon as a natural body of water can become polluted under certain circumstances, e g heavy rains during peak visitor periods as a result of poorly maintained or overloaded septic or conservancy tanks. The water quality is regularly tested and warning notices are put up if necessary.
Visitors need to be aware that sewage in the valley is not linked to any central collection or treatment system. Septic tanks should be used carefully to avoid overflow due to blockages. Conservancy tanks should be emptied well before there is a danger of overflow and pollution.
The Groot River Estuarine Management Plan may be viewed here. It includes regulations for the artificial breaching of the estuary mouth.
No person may breach or attempt to breach the mouth of the river when it is closed. SANParks have strict criteria for opening the mouth in accordance with estuary breaching regulations.
To ensure easy access and a pleasant environment for all users of the lagoon, canoes, boats, etc should be moored to the railings that have been provided.
No motorised craft are allowed on the lagoon.
NB: Being surrounded by a national park, a number of SANParks regulations are applicable in addition to municipal by-laws.
Household Waste And Sewage
- Being in a National Park frequented by wildlife creates special needs and responsibilities for the community.
- Baboons are active in Nature’s Valley. Crows can also be a problem. Poor waste management encourages their visits. Please assist by managing waste responsibly.
- Household garbage should be placed on street verges only on Fridays, the day the municipality makes a collection except during the year-end peak period when extra collections are notified. Collection can be as early as 07H00.
- Garbage bags should be inside a “wheely-bin” secured with strong clips or with cords or should be in an alternative baboon-proof container.
- Garbage disposal other than on Fridays should be done at the waste transfer station near the lagoon end of Forest Drive.
- It should be used only for household waste, including all recyclables.
- No building rubble, garden refuse, organic waste or other ‘junk’ is accepted. Residents and visitors must arrange for such waste to be transported to the waste disposal site in Plettenberg Bay.
- No garden refuse should be left for any length of time on sidewalks.
- Dumping of household waste, garden refuse, building rubble and any other kind of waste is prohibited by law.
- Organic waste composting is encouraged. See Afrikaans&English guide.
- Sewage is managed by conservancy or septic tanks which require regular checking to avoid pollution of the estuary.
- A municipal tanker system is used to empty conservancy tanks. A tanker should be ordered before a tank is full. 48-hour notice and pre-payment are required when ordering a tanker. See pre-payment arrangements. Tel 086 124 8686 or 044 501 3028 (office hours).
Dogs And Cats
Dogs play a special role in many families. However, if uncontrolled in the village or National Park they can harm or frighten pedestrians (children and the aged being most vulnerable) as well as wildlife. Birds and buck have been killed. They can also be a nuisance/danger to beach-goers, especially children.
Revised Dog Regulations were announced by Bitou Municipality in December 2017. These set out red, orange and green areas where dogs are forbidden or have to be on a leash or can be leash-free. A penalty of R500 applies to infringements.
View Regulations. In addition, the following should be noted:
- As a basic courtesy dog litter should be removed. Plastic bags are provided in wooden holders near the beach pathways.
- Residents and visitors should keep dogs from roaming outside
- Baboons, illegal game snares and discarded fishing hooks are dangers
- Dogs are not allowed on the streets except on a leash
- No dogs are allowed in the sea or lagoon
Visitors with cats that roam from protected areas should be aware that their pets could be vulnerable to predators.
By community choice, there are no streetlights in Nature’s Valley. When electricity was installed in 1986, the community decided not to erect street lighting for three important reasons:
- to enable residents and visitors to continue to enjoy the natural, star-filled, dark-sky beauty of the Valley;
- to avoid the aesthetic intrusion of lamp poles; and
- to restrict disturbing the habitat of nocturnal, highly light-sensitive insects such as fireflies, glow worms and moths.
In keeping with this approach, property owners are asked please to restrict to a minimum the installation and use of permanent and temporary external lights.
People living or holidaying in Nature’s Valley are likewise asked to help minimise light pollution at all times.
Gardening And Vegetation
- Invasive alien vegetation is a threat to Natures Valley’s unique ecosystem and should be removed and substituted with indigenous species. Primes examples are Eugenia trees, the berries of which attract baboons, Madeira vine and sword ferns which smother indigenous vegetation ( see comprehensive invasive plant guide specific to Nature’s Valley published November 2018).
- Sword ferns and ginger lilies are required by law to be removed and destroyed immediately ( see details).
- Before removing or trimming any forest or protected trees, please examine the Forestry Act requirements and apply for the necessary permits on page 2 of this link under Building Regulations. The Nature’s Valley Trust office in Nature’s Valley can offer further practical advice.
- Composting of organic waste is encouraged. See guide.
- What Regulations require:
- Indigenous trees and shrubs in a forested area like Nature’s Valley may not be removed, cut or pruned extensively – even if planted by owners on their properties. If a tree has to be felled or large branches removed, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Knysna. See documents on page 2 of this link or contact the Nature’s Valley Trust offices to seek further advice.
- In terms of Regulations pertaining to the Biodiversity Act and gazetted in August 2014, numerous requirements are set out affecting the management and the declaration by sellers of properties having alien and invasive plant species.
- For detailed information see regulations, etc listed in the Buiding Regulations section of this website.
Roads serve as the main pedestrian routes in Nature’s Valley.
Because of the many outdoor activities, all roads are used by pedestrians, joggers and cyclists far more than in a typical suburban setting. They are also used as key movement corridors by wildlife.
The narrow roads mean drivers should exercise patience and be exceptionally careful to avoid injuring people or wildlife including nocturnal game & birds.
Owners and visitors are asked to note the following points and, if necessary, to make others aware of them:
- The speed limit of 40kmph in the residential area must be obeyed.
- Unlicensed drivers and quad bikes are not allowed to drive in the residential area.
- Only emergency vehicles are allowed at the lagoon and on the beach. Emergency access points to the beach at the lagoon parking area and at Beach Path 4 must be kept clear at all times.
Fires, Fireworks And Chinese Lanterns
The densely wooded Tsitsikamma forests, the high proportion of wooden homes, the changeable wind conditions and the fact that the nearest Fire Department is 30km away, make it vital that owners and visitors avoid creating fire hazards in Nature’s Valley. See Useful Links for emergency contact numbers
What Regulations Require:
Regulations stipulate that no fires are allowed in the National Park, at the lagoon, on the beach or any public open space, except at designated places near the lagoon. Further:
- No fireworks or Chinese sky lanterns are allowed.
- No waste may be burnt on properties.
- No vegetation may be allowed to become a fire hazard.