Thrive Hout Bay has been involved in the fight against invasive vegetation since the Table Mountain veld fires in March 2015.
The fire was a catalyst for the germination of millions of Port Jackson willow seeds which had lain dormant (The species needs fire to germinate).
The clearing project was initiated on the Baviaanskloof slope opposite Tierboskloof with a group of pupils and some residents, and has continued with a team of trained clearers, thanks to the support of local donors.
An area of 2.5 square kilometres was cleared by them in 2017/2018.
Thrive clearers are trained to spot problem plants, dealing not only with Port Jackson willow, but also with other species such as Hakea sp; Pine sp. and Stinkbean. These species were brought to South Africa from Europe many years ago and have become invasive weeds.
The Thrive team removes these problem plants as follows:
* Hand pulling when plants are still small enough, and the soil is soft. Members of the public are also encouraged to use this easy method to weed out small plants on walks.
* Cutting of larger plants, followed by application at the cut, of a “selective herbicide” (kills the targeted plant with no significant damage to non-targeted plants and minimal effect on aquatic life). Herbicides are unfortunately necessary. If these plants shoot or coppice in this way, they grow stronger, becoming more difficult to remove.
Alien invasive plants pose the following threats:
* Compete with our indigenous vegetation for space
* Clog the rivers, using up valuable water resources
* Pose a fire hazard, being more inflammable than fynbos
Baviaanskloof success story
Thrive is proud to say that fynbos is being rehabilitated on the Baviaanskloof.
Thrive’s three-man team visits at least once a week to keep the invasives at bay.
The Thrive team is also clearing the areas above and below Chapman’s Peak Drive, between the toll gate and the day pass turnaround.
Protea and Metalasia dansa are just two of the fynbos species which are beginning to flourish once more, on the slopes of the Baviaanskloof.
Why should biodiversity matter to you and how can you help preserve it?
Your life depends on biodiversity. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help contain this loss of biodiversity. We are not in a hopeless situation – simple everyday activities can make a difference.
Some easy and practical biodiversity preservation ideas:
* Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose
* Make a birdfeeder. Hammer nails into a log and everytime you eat an apple, skewer the core onto one of those nails. Learn to make seed birdfeeders. Or make a bird-feeding table.
* Make a bug hotel using logs and stones, bark and moss, providing places for insects to burrow and hide.
* Encourage pollinators such as butterflies and bees, by making a flower garden, planting brightly coloured flowers. Provide a small water source for birds and insects.
* Reduce or eliminate pesticides and fertilisers – use companion planting.
* Build a worm farm instead of throwing valuable green waste to landfill.
* Build a small pond, and encourage frogs, toads and dragonflies to visit.
* Identify alien vegetation and pull out small saplings on your walks.
* Plant local, indigenous bulbs, plants or trees. Plant a fruit or nut tree at your school.
* Protect our forests by reducing your paper consumption and use 100% recycled paper. Look out for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label on the paper you buy and use.
* Tell your friends and neighbours of one or two things you are doing to conserve and protect your local biodiversity.
* Become a Biodiversity Buddy. You never know, this may lead you to your choice of career, for protecting biodiversity offers many different types of jobs and viable livelihoods such as environmental scientist, game ranger, entomologist, marine scientist, to name a few.
Refresh your memory of the benefits of nature with the WWF wheel from Article 1, showing the four key areas: provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural.
This diagram can be found in Article 1 on the Thrive website at https://thrive.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Thrive-2019-Biodiversity-Study-Article-1-with-Questions.pdf
And from the world’s most biodiverse city, Cape Town’s mayor Dan Plato recently committed to protecting the city’s biodiversity: “The City has adopted a people-centred approach to biodiversity management, and this is especially important in an urban setting such as Cape Town where biodiversity sites must coexist surrounded by densely populated areas.
We are committed to taking practical steps to ensure the long-term sustainability and preservation of our biodiversity.”
Thrive strongly endorses this people-centred approach. The involvement of ordinary individuals is the key to the sustainability of all environmental programmes The success of biodiversity preservation depends on you!
Additional reading: http://wwf.panda.org/our_work/biodiversity/biodiversity_and_you/