New Rosebank Canal Rehabilitation Project to turn the canal back into a river

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Blog

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The Liesbeek river flows through many suburbs, including Rosebank, in its journey from the eastern slopes of Table Mountain to the confluence of the Black River in Observatory. The canalised part of the river, nearly 70% of the entire river, offers limited ecological services by way of improving water quality or supporting habitat and ecosystems. Future Water (University of Cape Town) together with the Water Hub and Friends of Liesbeek launched a programme to address these challenges in a small section of the canal. The aim is to bring nature back to the river by planting riverine plants in the Rosebank section of the canal. The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and started in January 2022. 

From Canal to River introducing Palmiet plants

Over 1500 Palmiet seedlings were brought to the Water Hub, a research and demonstration site in Franschhoek, and transferred onto floating wetland structures where they are grown hydroponically. After 10 weeks the plants will be ready to be transferred to the Liesbeek Canal. 

Impact on the local level in the Rosebank Community

The project was recently presented by the project leader, Kevin Winter, to the Rosebank and Mowbray neighbourhood and was received with great enthusiasm. Thanks to many involved and active local community members, around 70 residents attended the meeting. The project team is looking forward to the next phase of the work involving weeding and planting that will be done together with the residents.


From mid-February three Dutch students of Hogeschool Rotterdam will come to Cape Town to start their research on the Liesbeek Canal. The focus of these projects is on measuring water quality, the changing state of the river once the Palmiets are planted, soil movement and social challenges around the Liesbeek. Research outcomes will be used to find out whether this pilot could be transferred to other parts of the Liesbeek river and elsewhere in South Africa. The project also seeks to answer the question, which is of interest to the City of Cape Town, to what extent will Palmiets contribute to flood risk mitigation? In addition, the project aims to link this project to other work taking place in the Liveable Urban Waterways City programme. 

Project Updates: Check the Instagram page: @rosebankcanalrehabilitation

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