Theo Manuel has been working on an environmental project with a local community in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Cape Town. He is largely responsible for the rehabilitation and management of the Wolfgat Nature Reserve which comprises a strip of coastal vegetation with a representative patch of fynbos plants. Much, if not most, of this region is threatened with habitat destruction. The Reserve of 248 ha, the second largest in the area, is located between two townships comprising 1.5 million people, and the pressures of human numbers and poverty are acute.
After its establishment 10 years ago, the Reserve became steadily degraded. More than 200 plant species and a number of animal species are largely endemic to the area. The `saving' of the Reserve is entirely Manuel's doing, and reflects an exceptional degree of initiative and leadership on his part. He has rehabilitated and developed the Reserve in a manner that benefits the community.
Manuel's accomplishment is all the more notable because he is disabled from a spinal cord injury, and finds difficulty in simply walking around with crutches. He has shown a high degree of professional commitment and personal courage. He is an example to his peers, and as a Cape `coloured' he has bridged an ethnic gap between several communities.
His project is well known in the Republic of South Africa and he has inspired other individuals and groups to look at their own urban landscapes to find ways of protecting their environmental resources.