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In Numbers

Forming part of the Cape Fold Belt, the Grootwinterhoek water source area supplies water to Atlantis, Ceres and Saldanha.

Size: 552 606 ha

Main Rivers

The Olifants, Klein Berg, and Doring rivers flow from Groot Winterhoek water source area.

Did You Know?

  • The Doring River, the longest free-flowing river in the Western Cape (200 km), flows from the Groot Winterhoek water source area.
  • Some of South Africa’s greatest San rock art is found here.
  • This water source area is home to the Cape Mountain Leopard.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.01%
  • Wetlands 1.46%
  • Urban 0.25%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 6.41%
  • Waterbodies 0.90%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 0.27%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 7.71%
  • Natural 82.99%

72% Protected Areas

The Groot Winterhoek water source area is well protected (72%). This includes five mountain catchment areas, seven forest protected areas, two provincial nature reserves and two local nature reserves. The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area and Cederberg Wilderness Area are found within this water source area. Further, two Ramsar Sites (Langebaan and Verlorenvlei) are downstream this water source area.

  • 5
  • 7
  • 2
  • 2

Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

Approximately 83% of this water source is still in its natural condition.

  • 3% Endangered
  • 18% Vulnerable
  • 79% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

More than half of wetland ecosystems (56%) in Groot Winterhoes are critically endangered.

  • 56% Critically Endangered
  • 8% Endangered
  • 36% Least Threatened


The Groot Winterhoek is well protected and largely in natural condition. Nevertheless, the threat status of its wetland ecosystems are high. What legal or management mechanisms can be used to protect and mitigate threats to its wetland ecosystems?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.