On Tuesday the grootvadersbosch conservancy again came together to fight fires. 30ha burnt on the southern section of the conservancy. Brilliant assistance with aerial bommers to contain it with all landowners helping out.
Today, we had much needed rain which made sure everything was put out. The rain is a welcome break to many in the southern cape and overberg fighting a hectic fire season this year. Well done to all the brave and hard working fire fighters.
Hidden among the farmlands and fynbos-rich folded mountains of the Southern Cape, lies one of South Africa’s best kept natural secrets: a 15 000ha stretch of land set aside for the conservation of indigenous flora and fauna, of which about 760ha consists of towering, lush Afromontane forest.
Known as the Grootvadersbosch forests this treasure of indigenous vegetation is home to an astounding diversity of species – from rare birds to endemic frogs and butterflies, and all sorts of creatures in between – making it a conservation hot spot.
What makes this area quite unique, however, is the fact that conservation is driven by private landowners, under the banner of the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy. The conservancy was established in 1992 by committed local landowners, the GVB Conservancy’s main role is to promote the protection of indigenous plants and animals on private land. The Conservancy forms an important natural buffer area to the Wilderness area of Boosmanbos, managed by Cape Nature.
Nature conservation activities have been greatly supported by the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy Trust that was set up in 1997 and provides a formal institutional arrangement for the raising of funds.
Conservation was of course not always the main focus of those living in the area, as large parts of the forest were all but denuded by woodcutters during the mid-1800s. In an effort to reverse the damage, replacement trees were planted on a large scale in the early 1900s, but sadly indigenous species were not given preference, allowing an intrusion of alien trees. These days you will still find the likes of exotic blackwood and black wattle among indigenous species such as the dominant iron wood, red alder, stinkwood and yellow wood.
Re-establishing natural forest in areas invaded by exotic species is now one of GVB Conservancy’s main conservation objectives and one that they have employed with gusto. So much so that the conservancy has recently been elected as one of a handful of international conservation projects in the running to receive funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA).
The project GVB Conservancy is in the running for will see them restore fragmented pockets of Southern Afrotemperate forest, using an innovative selective clearing approach developed by Prof Coert Geldenhuys and successfully implemented in many parts of the country and the world. What it entails is using large invasive trees as shelter for the establishment of indigenous trees. The exotic blackwood and black wattle species are then removed in stages as the shade-loving indigenous species become more dominant and create a canopy of their own.
The project will be implemented in two sections of the conservancy – one on the Buffeljags River near Suurbraak and the other near the GVB Conservancy head office just outside Heidelberg – exclusively in areas that were originally forested, meaning that no fynbos will be compromised.
However, all of this is subject to receiving funding from EOCA and GVB Conservancy needs your help in the form of a vote.
The winner of the funding will be elected according to the number of votes received on the EOCA website, which will be open to the public up until Monday 19 October. Be sure to head on over the project voting page and cast your vote.
The GVB Conservancy will also be having a public vote to assist those who do not have access to a laptop at Spar in Heidelberg on Friday 16 October from 14:00 to 19:00.
“Your simple contribution of a vote can assist our organization to expand forests, create jobs and build trails. This will make a real difference in our rural community. We will plant a tree for every 10 votes that we receive so even if we don’t win, the forest will,” says Aileen Anderson, General Manager, Grootvadersbosch Conservancy.
You can also assist in further conservation efforts by visiting the GVB Conservancy, staying over, buying a permit to do one of the spectacular MTB trails, supporting the local farmers through the purchase of their products and donating toward the building of trails and planting of trees.
For more information visit the GVB Conservancy website or give them a call on 071 691 6463.
(Article written by Nadia Krige)
Last week we held our AGM where we celebrated our year and thanked everyone for their support. Thank you to #MinisterAlanWinde for attending and sharing some inspirational thoughts on government enablers, sustainability, economic opportunities, green economy and trail building. We had wonderful attendance from landowners in the area as well as #capenature #capebenntonitemine #hessequamunicipality #suurbraak cos #gondwanaalive. Nothing would have been possible without support from all our partners.
We thank all our contractors for their hard work this year and presented the best contractor award to Wayne Fielies and most improved contractor award to Tom Louw.
Today we planted 160 trees at our rehabilitation site. Our team of 8 ladies assisted in planting out the trees in an area that has been selectively cleared of wattle. Over the next week we plan to plant over 300 trees and watch our forest grow!
Today, we trained Eden municipality staff in invasive alien clearing techniques. We approached them when we observed ways to improve alien clearing techniques on road verges. Improved herbicide application and mixing techniques were discussed as well as effective cut stump techniques. More effective techniques will make a massive difference to efficiency which is so important given their large scope of work. Thanks to Eden for meeting with us and we hope we have assisted you in keeping our road verges clearer of invasive.
Since October we have completed a large number of training courses that have built the capacity of our work teams. In November, through support from the Western Cape Medical services we completed emergency first aid response training. Conservation at work provided us with generous support to complete health and safety training and herbicide applicator training. In March, the Breede Gouritz Catchment Management Agency assisted us with training 27 chainsaw operators. This training is essential to improve the quality of work and keep our work force safe in the field.
In June the Conservancy invited forest ecologist Prof Coert J. Geldenhuys to facilitate a two-day Forest Rehabilitation Training Workshop to local farmers and contractors.
Coert presented his workshop, "Concept and practice of natural forest rehabilitation through manipulation of alien invader plant stands: Theory of the why and how?"
The workshop was well-received and participants were equipped with theoretical and hands-on training in new methods to clear invasive species while promoting indigenous growth. Thank you Coert for a great couple of days!