Rosebank Project

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New Rosebank Canal Rehabilitation Project to turn the canal back into a river

The Liesbeek river flows through many suburbs, including Rosebank, in its journey from the eastern slopes of Table Mountain to the confluence of the Black River in Observatory. The canalised part of the river, nearly 70% of the entire river, offers limited ecological services by way of improving water quality or supporting habitat and ecosystems. Future Water (University of Cape Town) together with the Water Hub and Friends of Liesbeek launched a programme to address these challenges in a small section of the canal. The aim is to bring nature back to the river by planting riverine plants in the Rosebank section of the canal. The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and started in January 2022. 

From Canal to River introducing Palmiet plants

Over 1500 Palmiet seedlings were brought to the Water Hub, a research and demonstration site in Franschhoek, and transferred onto floating wetland structures where they are grown hydroponically. After 10 weeks the plants will be ready to be transferred to the Liesbeek Canal. 

Impact on the local level in the Rosebank Community

The project was recently presented by the project leader, Kevin Winter, to the Rosebank and Mowbray neighbourhood and was received with great enthusiasm. Thanks to many involved and active local community members, around 70 residents attended the meeting. The project team is looking forward to the next phase of the work involving weeding and planting that will be done together with the residents.


From mid-February three Dutch students of Hogeschool Rotterdam will come to Cape Town to start their research on the Liesbeek Canal. The focus of these projects is on measuring water quality, the changing state of the river once the Palmiets are planted, soil movement and social challenges around the Liesbeek. Research outcomes will be used to find out whether this pilot could be transferred to other parts of the Liesbeek river and elsewhere in South Africa. The project also seeks to answer the question, which is of interest to the City of Cape Town, to what extent will Palmiets contribute to flood risk mitigation? In addition, the project aims to link this project to other work taking place in the Liveable Urban Waterways City programme. 

Project Updates: Check the Instagram page: @rosebankcanalrehabilitation

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A FOL update

The Friends of the Liesbeek are often mistaken as the authority wrt to the environmental management of the Liesbeek. Perhaps, it is an honor for this small donor funded organisation to be recognized as such having worked tirelessly for over 20 years looking after the Liesbeek and it’s environs, especially so with the introduction of a full-time Liesbeek Maintenance Project (LMP) “Dream team” some 11 years or so ago. The team rely on a dictated team of volunteers whom secure funding for their operations and remuneration, and of late like most NPOs have found us facing funding challenges during the Covid 19 pandemic. However, having secured the trust of the public and assistance from several City of Cape Town government departments which have unique but similar interests and perspectives, particularly in relation to the pursuit of sustainability. Our collaboration efforts have allowed us a comprehensive appreciation of environmental challenges and encouraged each other to use our expertise and exchange resources to achieve our sustainability goals. It is through these collaborations that a real difference can be made. I would like to take my hat of to all stake holders more so our sponsors, the various city departments such as Recreation and Parks, Catchment and Storm Water Management Branch, Cape Town Invasive Species, Residence Associations and not forgetting the CIDs and sister organisations as well as the many volunteers that dedicate their time working along the Liesbeek. On behalf of the “Dream Team” thank you friends. Below are a few photos appreciating our relationships. To find out how you can contribute to our cause be it through your time or donations please visit

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Liveable Urban Waterways

This video forms part of a Living Lab series in an Orange Knowledge Project called Bridging the Waters. We explore how to transform an urban canal into a river. One of the labs involved the Liesbeek along Rosebank.

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11th Annual Peninsula Paddle

The 4th of October saw for the 11th Peninsula Paddle whereby a select few representatives from Future Water UCT, Khayelitsha Canoe Club, Sea The Bigger Picture, City of Cape Town and environmental advocates paddled from Muizenberg to Milnerton via Cape Town’s vlei’s, canals and waterways to raise awareness around the health of our rivers and wetland ecosystems. A lot of pollution and plant overgrowth were to seen along the course of the paddle caused by waste service delivery issues and litter awareness experienced by the city and its citizens. The paddle hopes to bring about positive and transformative change for the life veins of our city. Water quality tests and a video to come.

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2020 AGM

This year’s AGM was held on Zoom as per COVID-19 regulations, a first for FoL. We thank all those who attended as well as our very special guest speaker Dean Impson, A Cape Nature Senior Scientist on Indigenous fresh-water fish in the Berg River Catchment, with a focus on the Liesbeek’s extant & historic species. Furthermore, The Douglas Metcalfe River Warden Award was presented to these 3 fine humans (in absentia) at the Friends of the Liesbeek AGM, with thanks for all they do for our River.

Attached is Sabelo’s Annual Liesbeek Maintenance Project Managers Report Video

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A Brave New World have been hosting our website and email for a long long time. It all started off as a year free hosting that I won in a competition and donated to FOL. maxxor kept up the free hosting and support after that but have now moved their core business away from hosting.

We are now hosted on a Hetzner server and I will be approaching them to see if they will be prepared to offer us a hosting deal similar to Maxxor.

In the mean time expect the web site to be revamped and freshened up a bit


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AGM 2018

Friends of the Liesbeek AGM

You are invited to participate in the general annual meeting of the Friends of the Liesbeek

Jeremy Shelton from the Living Labs will address the meeting.

When: 6 pm, Tuesday 24 July 2018
Where: The Splash Cafe, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands

Please RSVP to

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River Walk with Fynbos Phil in Paradise Park

The African Monarch butterfly rests on its host in a canal near Paradise Park. Thanks to the Liesbeek Maintenance Project’s work along the corridor, the canal’s are slowly transforming from sterile cement to novel habitats.

On Thursday the 5th of October, FoL Chair Phil McLean, affectionately known as FynbosPhil will be leading a river walk inside Paradise Park.

Paradise Park is one of the pride and joys of the Liesbeek river corridor thanks to the Friends group of residents in the surrounding community who have taken serious initiative to upgrade this public green and blue space. The Park has numerous natural play features for children to enjoy the scenic riverine environment. But the attractions of this space extend beyond classic playtime fun. With Phil’s biological insight the walk is sure to help reveal a more subtle beauty of the eco-system within the park area. The talk will be aimed at the younger generation but the more experienced are more than welcome to join in on the conversation.

The walk will start from the bridge below the swings at 2pm, invite your friends and share the event on social media. This is a great opportunity to spend time learning about the Liesbeek river and how we are all reliant on the health of it’s eco-system.

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WESSA National Group Award for FoL

Friends of the Liesbeek has just returned from Durban after an amazing weekend with WESSA. We were privileged and honoured to be recognised for the years of work that we have been doing along the Liesbeek river in receiving WESSA’s annual national groups award. The award is aimed at,

“Any individual, corporate/organisation, community group, educational group, conservation or environmental group who have done outstanding and sustained work for the benefit of environmental conservation and/or education in South Africa.”

The award was handed over by WESSA’s CEO who had the following to say about our project,

“In recognition of their progressive, community-managed local stream rehabilitation initiative, resulting in the conservation of the ecological-corridor of the Liesbeek river while also creating employment for the rehabilitation of the riverine eco-system.

They have effectively included the river community, residents and relevant stakeholders. This innovative and unifying work is an example to be up-scaled to other parts of South Africa.

WESSA acknowledges their dedication to promoting public participation in being ‘People Caring for the Earth”

Hence it would be obvious to state that we have returned to Cape Town with a renewed vigour and inspiration towards our project of rehabilitating and conserving the ecological corridor of the Liesbeek. We would like to thank all of those involved with FoL whether that be formally or informally. We are, after all, a community organisation and it would not be possible to have implemented these interventions without an active community.

Phil McLean (FoL Chairman), Mncekelekeli Klaas (LMP Supervisor) and Conor Eastment (LMP Manager) receiving the National Groups award from WESSA chairman and CEO.

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