In early February, 14 beneficiaries, climbed the Langeberg mountain on the west side of the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy to do alien clearing. They were divided into two separate teams, called the Pine and Hakea Teams. The initiative is funded by landowners and the Department of Environmental Affairs Forestry and Fisheries, under the Natural Resource Management (NRM) programme.
The teams were assigned equipment, which included sleeping bags and tents. The aim of their assignment was to remove the alien invasive trees (mainly hakea, pine and some black wattle) in a specific block, reflected in their contracts. The teams walked approximately 17km up the mountain, with an elevation gain of 480m to an altitude of 1145m. The first two blocks, covered 1157 hectares. The work was made more strenuous because they had to manoeuvre around with their overnight camping equipment. The participants have all received training to prepare them for the work.
The teams were camping for 4 nights in the mountains. They go up on a Mondays and descend on Fridays. The first two contracts stretch over 3 weeks in which they have to go up and camp in the mountains each week. Overall, the participants were eager to sleep out and tackle this important work.
Vernon Wessels and Wayne Fielies are the two contractors, each with the responsibility to guide their teams. Each team has the contractor to give overall instructions for the contract, as well as a supervisor in the field to look after the team. One of challenges that the team faced was that it was hot, other challenges included the danger of the terrain and the equipment that they must carry. For safety, they had to be able to communicate daily with the office to ensure that they remained safe in the field. Covid 19 regulations and protocols is also a challenge because of social distancing, as the teams needed to sleep in tents in the mountains. Regardless of the challenges, the two teams was very brave and committed to reach the top of the mountain and neither the weather nor anything else could stop them. The teams will complete the 2 contracts within 3 weeks and will be working on other contracts until the end of March.
''This is a great experience for me" said one of the team members when they needed to go back into the mountains. Overall, it seems that the teams are well organized and are motivated to complete this important work to protect our precious mountain environments.
GVB Conservancy Staff