LMP Report 2010/06

Liesbeek Maintenance Project Report

June 2010

By: James Cooper (Project Manager)

The River Team

All 3 guys continue to work on the project. On days when rain kept the team off the river they went to Kenilworth Racecourse to do plant propagation and computer training. A new learner from WESSA will be joining the team occasionally at the beginning of July to do a project along the Liesbeek.



Ordering and collection of plants

James managed to organise some City Parks funds for indigenous plants from the Cape Flats Nursery for the Liesbeek. Wetland and riparian plants were ordered and collected.

Figure 1. Some of the plants purchased from the Cape Flats Nursery

Planting at Belmont Bridge

The team continued with work in this area and planted 50 Chasmantheyes bulbs. More indigenous plants were received through City Parks and 2 Chrysathamoides, 2 Leucodendrons and 5 Pelargoniums were planted in this area in the middle of June. All the plants have taken well and the team continues to water them once a week and weed the area.

EE activity with the Pinelands scouts

On the 18th of June 6 scouts from the 1st Pinelands scouts troop came to do 8 hours of community service on the Liesbeek. It was decided to do a rehabilitation patch behind Newlands Swimming Pool as the Maintenance Project had just received a number of plants from City Parks.

An area was chosen that wouldn’t be affected by flooding and possible soil erosion. The scouts and River team spent the morning removing the alien vegetation from the site. This included removing Nastershums and Kikuyu grass by hand pulling.

Figure. Scouts doing wonderful work on the Liesbeek

During the lunch break the scouts were taught about plant identification and given field guides which they had to use to identify the plants that were going to be planted. After successfully identifying and reading up on each plant species the scouts and river team placed the plants in suitable positions in the site.

After the plants had been planted a border was made around the site using branches from the river. This was done to prevent Kikuyu grass and other aliens from encroaching into the site and prevent soil erosion.

The following plants were planted in the site:

–          5 Psoralea pinnata

–          5 Chrysanthemoides monolifera

–          5 Elegra tacterum

–          5 Ficnia nodosa

–          4 Leucodendron levisonus

–          10 Pelargonium frutecsens

–          5 Monopsus lutea

–          40 Chasmantheyes

–     5 Chrysocoma coma-coma

Figure. The rehabilitation site with plants and border

All the plants are taking well and the team continues to water and weed the site once a week. After monitoring the site for a month, to see which plants are the most suitable, the site will be extended and more plants will be planted. This must be done before the end of winter.

Mowbray Wetland Project

There is a wonderful artificial wetland adjacent to the Liesbeek in Mowbray. Water feeds into this wetland via pipes leading from the Liesbeek canal. These pipes lead into a holding tank with a sliding metal door, which can be opened at ones discretion to allow water to flow into the wetland. There has been no maintenance of these pipes or the holding tank in the last two years and they have become blocked with mud and debris from the river. This has resulted in the wetland not being able to function properly in filtering and cleaning water from the Liesbeek.

In June the River team cleaned out the pipes and holding tank and placed large stones around the 4 pipes to prevent debris and mud from entering the system in the future. This was very time consuming and two days were spent cleaning the system to ensure that water once again flows into the wetland. The team have yet to identify the position of the exit pipe from the wetland back into the river and still need to remove large amounts of alien vegetation which are preventing smooth constant water flow.

We will continue work around this wetland in the months to come, with the team already having removed the Kikuyu grass which had grown over the Restios surrounding the wetland. We will be planting indigenous species and removing alien vegetation in the future.

General Maintenance

Litter clean ups

The team continued with weekly cleans from Newlands Swimming Pool to the siding in Rondebosch and undertook monthly cleans at Paradise Park, Riverside Road and River Park. The river team had to clear out a huge amount of vagrant rubbish at the railway siding the day before a City Parks mowing team went to the area to prevent it from being mowed and cut.

Figure 2. David Nyalathela cleans the vagrants mess at the railway siding

Cleaning Alfred stream

The team has done weekly clearing of Alfred stream due to lots of leaf litter being washed down during the first winter rains. The leaf material and soil has been used as mulch in the rehabilitation sites.

Path Maintenance

The team have been sweeping the paths in the afternoons on a Monday and Thursday due to the deciduous alien trees loosing all their leaves in winter.

Canal Maintenance

The team continued cutting vegetation hanging in the canal and completed the section from Riverside Mall in Rondebosch to the railway siding.

Alien vegetation removal

The team concentrated on removing Kikuyu grass in June. The first section was just before Rouwkoop Rd where the team removed Kikuyu from the Sour figs. The second section was at the Mowbray wetland, where the team removed all the Kikuyu growing over the Restios next to the wetland. We will be concentrating more on alien invasive species in the months to come.

Other City department activities

City Parks

James organised a City Parks contract team to cut the grass along various sections of the Liesbeek. James supervised the cutting to ensure that indigenous vegetation was saved from the brush cutters.

There was also a City Parks contract team that cut back the Bougainvilleas at the railway siding in Rondebosch.

Roads and Storm water

Roads and storm water department continue to collect our Tuffy bags every Friday or Saturday at sites along the Liesbeek.

Displaced people Unit

The displaced persons unit was contacted on two occasions this month. They were contacted at the beginning of June to come and remove four vagrants who had taken up residents under the bridge in River Park. They were contacted later in the month to come and have a look at the vagrants sleeping under the bridge and in the subway at Dean Street.


The three staff members had some computer training at Kenilworth Racecourse during one of the rainy days, but other training has been lacking this month.


James is awaiting the article from the Pinelands scouts which he will post on the website.

River assessment

James and Michael Tanner, an American student from Wisconsin, conducted a river survey along the entire stretch of the Liesbeek at the beginning of June. The idea is to determine the health of a river system by looking at the banks of the river, vegetation in and on the immediate banks of the river and species diversity. This was a trial run and we are currently adapting and simplifying the assessment so that it can be used as an educational tool along any urban river system. Michael will have this ready by the end of July 2010.


James attended the quarterly Wetlands forum meeting at Kirstenbosch. Maya, James and Farha attended at meeting at WESSA where they met scholars doing a learner ship programme. Six of these scholars will be doing various projects for all the City satellite sites, which include Rondebosch Common, Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area, Two Rivers Urban Park and the Liesbeek. James will give an update at the end of July on the project chosen for the Liesbeek

Interesting Sightings

On the 10 June James spotted both of these birds in the Rondebosch area before Arbor Road. The first is a Gymnogene, which is a solitary bird that lives in forest or denser woodlands. The one sighted on the Liesbeek flew off and was chased by 3 passing seagulls, who were not impressed with his presence.

Figure 3. Gymnogene in one of the Gum trees near Arbor Rd in Rondebosch

Figure 4. Gymnogene being chased by an angry Hartlaubs Gull

The second interesting sighting was of a juvenile African Goshawk, which is a solitary bird that lives in indigenous forests. This particular individual has been seen a number of times in the area and we can assume that it is living in the alien poplars.

Figure 5. Juvenile African Goshawk in Rondebosch

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