LMP Report 2012/01-2012/02

Monthly Report: January – February 2012

Liesbeek Maintenance Project

Jason Mingo

Maintenance of the canal and pathways:

The team completed clearing the canalised sections in preparation for winter rainfalls. This included the removal of overhanging vegetation and branches along the canal as well as the cutting back of vegetation in the canal itself.

Attention was brought to the fact that many residents were concerned to walk the pathway due to the “bushiness” of certain sections (specifically the section between Albion spring and Arbour Road). The team therefore set out to increase the visibility along this section and we have had a number of comments pertaining to the positive impact the teams work has had on this section. Incidences of graffiti were also dealt with along this section. Pathway maintenance was also undertaken between Belmont Road and Rouwkoop Road. The team managed to tackle the weeds problem along the path, after Belmont Road, opposite Pick ‘n Pay, which was becoming overgrown and unsightly. Further effort in altering this section adequately for public use and safety is required and will be followed up with the relevant Councillor.

Cleaning the river:

Every Thursday the team did a “clean sweep” of the river from the south side of the N2 to the end of the trail along Sans Souci Road. Following on from the last report, Cllr Iversen has since replied to my comment and suggestions referring to the siding. Unfortunately, the siding belongs to metro rail and as such the Cllr has no jurisdiction over the area, however he can bring the problem to Metro Rails attention and have them sort out the situation. Due to the lack of accountability and response from metro rail, I have been in contact with the Rondebosch Police and Displace Peoples Unit for assistance. At the time of writing this report little has changed at the siding, but follow-ups are planned to take place with the aforementioned organisations to solve the problem.

Work done at Boschenheuwel Arboretum (Bishopscourt):

Due to previous engagements with residences in the area, and the need to have a top-down approach to tackling the problem of alien plants, pilot work was undertaken in the Boschenheuwel Arboretum. Work in this area was done every Friday up until the middle of February. The focus of the work being on the removal of vast stands of alien invasive weeds. These included the likes of Crofton weed, balloon vine, wattles, Spanish broom and wild ginger. This pilot work enabled us to understand the extent of the problem in that area, and we have consequently realised that the area will require a vast amount of resources in terms of labour and time to have a significant impact in controlling the growth of alien species. Timing could not have been more perfect as the Kadar Asmal River project (mentioned further below) commenced on the Liesbeek River during February, and so this boost to our labour force greatly enhances our chances of tackling the problems in this area.

As a note, contact was made with the Bishopscourt Residence Association (BCRA) to increase the awareness surrounding the problem of alien invasive species in this area, and to gain the support of property owners as much of the aliens along the banks of the river are on private property (property boundaries still line up to the middle of the river).

Working at the rehab site, “Newlands Pool”:

Further progress at the rehab site has been slow, with the majority of activity relating to weeding and maintaining and watering the plants present in the area. This is largely due to the fact that it is not recommended to plant in hottest months of the year, although thanks to a donation by Phil Mclean, we have done some planting. Phil generously donated to us a large stand of Dietes grandiflora and Dietes bicolour (Wild Iris), which have since been planted in a semi-shaded area at the rehab site and received constant watering through these very hot weeks. We can look forward to them flowering after the winter rains.

A meeting was held in late January with the nursery managers of Kirstenbosch Gardens, regarding the provision of plants for those areas cleared by aliens. They have since visited our rehab site, commended the work done in the area, and come planting season (April) they will be more than happy to donate plants for the area, allowing us to expand our rehab site further along the river. Furthermore, contact was made with the SANParks tree nursery manager, and they too are willing to donate 40 trees for us to plant along the river. These include, Assegai (x5), Cape beech (x5), Cape Holly (x15) and Wild Olive (x15). Both of these donations in conjunction with the proposed plants from city parks should see us make major inroads in rehabilitating that portion of the river bank.

Lythrum salicaria Project:

The partnership between the FoL and SANBI’s EDRR (Early Detection and Rapid Response) unit is now finalised. The finalisation of this process will see the FoL receive the financial support (for both labour and transport) from SANBI in terms of the work done on controlling Purple loosestrife.

The team has continued to monitor the wetlands surrounding the River Club and Valkenberg areas, with a number of new plants being spotted as a result of them flowering during these months. These plants were subsequently sprayed and monitored closely over the next couple of weeks, with the flower heads being removed to prevent any potential seed dispersal. The team’s next focus in this project is to maintain the cleared sections of reed beds for continued monitoring and possible treatment of plants in the Raapenberg Wetland.

Mapping of Purple loosestrife will be happening in the next month, followed up with another treatment regime.

­Kadar Asmal River Project (Integrated Catchment Management)

The Kadar Asmal River Project, began operations on the river on the 14th February, and the understanding between our organization and that of the city is that the labourers would fit into our operations along the river, with the city responsible for paying and equipping the labourers. Out of a potential list of 25 labourers, a grand total of five arrived at the Valkenberg Wetlands prepared to work. The following day we were down to four, and it was decided that the list of workers supplied by the sub-council was ineffective and we asked the four labourers were asked to recruit people they knew who were looking for work. As a result of this, we are now looking at a stable work force of 15 labourers working with our river team.

The team has been busy clearing sections of Canna indica from the banks of the river, next to the Valkenberg Wetland. I have chosen this section of the river, as it has been the concern for many of the people living in and around this area, and the area is also playing home to a number of vagrants and anti-social behaviour. While it has only been two weeks in this area, the difference of having a larger work force is evident in the progress made along the river bank and the quality of work. Future plans include clearing aliens in the vicinity next to the River Park business complex, and moving further up river to Joan Parkers area and the Arboretum (as previously mentioned).

As an addition to the work being done under this project, it was clear that by removing the majority of aliens in an area, it opens up the potential for further occupation of new or previously removed aliens due to their invasive nature. On discussion with our partners at SANBI, the possibility of utilising Working for Water’s Re-vegetation Program was raised. The aim of this program is, as it is named, to re-vegetate banks and/or wetlands that have been cleared by aliens. They potentially have the capacity to offer both labour and various plants to plant in these areas, and so contact has been made with the project manager. Further details will follow in the next report.

General:

Rustenberg High Clean up:

On Sunday the 26th of February, a group of Rustenberg Girl’s High students attended a river clean up opposite the Valkenberg Wetlands, and cleaned the river section just north of the N2. It was a great success with students having been very enthusiastic. Further activities with this group are likely to be planned for later during the year.

Signage for the team

The Liesbeek Maintenance Team will now be fully visible while they continue with their work along the river. This is thanks to the purchasing of reflective safety vests for the team to wear. These vests have the terms “Liesbeek Project” and “Friends of the Liesbeek” printed on the back and with name tags for each of our team members in a protective sleeved pocket on the front.

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