Monthly Report: November – December 2011
Liesbeek Maintenance Project
Maintenance of the canal and pathways:
The team focussed much of their attention on cutting back vegetation on the pathway between the SA Breweries and Rygersdal sports fields. The aim of cutting back the vegetation is to allow a clear line of sight around corners and further down the path, thereby improving the safety of pedestrians on the path.
A number of weeds were also removed along the path. These weeds (which include Kikuyu, a fern creeper and morning glory) were beginning to suffocate native species in the area. This has allowed the native species to have enough space to grow further and hopefully out-compete the remaining weeds.
Cleaning the river:
Work done at Paradise/Bucksburn Park:
Thanks to funds donated by the newly formed Friends of Paradise Park the team was able to work for five days a week, with Friday being assigned to working at Paradise and Bucksburn Park. Initially the team focussed on cleaning and clearing the pathway running through both parks. Our attention then shifted to removing alien tree species which included two wattle species, two Spanish brooms, 8 trees of heaven and numerous poplar shoots and lantana. The wattle, Spanish broom and trees of heaven were all cut stump treated to prevent further growth. Once this was achieved the team did some maintenance in the canal by cutting small trenches in the built up banks in the canal, and transplanting Juncus (an indigenous restio) along the river in the canal.
Working at the rehab site:
Further work was undertaken at the rehab site (behind Newland swimming pool), to expand the area down to the rivers edge and create a larger buffer zone for the rehab area. Continuous weeding of Kikuyu and Cannas in the rehab site has helped the planted indigenous flora to grow and new seedlings to come up as well. Thanks to the continuous efforts of Ntobeko, the team did “search and rescue”, a process whereby native water plants such as Cyprus and Juncus growing in the canal further downstream were removed and planted in the rocky edges of the river below the rehab site. This has led to many of the plants establishing themselves along the edges of the bank, and should help to further stabilise the bank in the future. A large section below the rehab site was also cleared for future planting next year, and thanks to permission granted by the Cllr Brunette and the City Parks Dept., we were able to transplant some Watsonias taken from the Arboretum into this new cleared area. Hopefully the success of the transplant will be seen next year in spring.
A ward allocation of R25 000 has been awarded to the Liesbeek River, for alien plant clearing. Due to the constraints associated with ward allocations the money needs to be spent in the relevant ward. I have managed to negotiate with City Parks Dept. and the Councillor, and they are prepared to use a portion of the ward allocation for buying plants to replant into the areas from where we want to clear alien plants. The plan is to increase the density of indigenous plants in our rehab site, and then slowly expand the edges of the site into the remaining sections of the river bank.
Eradicating Purple Loosestrife:
The partnership between the FoL and SANBI’s EDRR (Early Detection and Rapid Response) unit is the process of being finalised and signed off. This will allow for our team to designate one day of the each working week between spring and autumn of the next year, to identifying and clearing areas of Purple loosestrife. Already during the last month and a half, the team has succeeded in spraying large areas at the River Club and at the Valkenberg Wetlands. The result of this spraying looks very promising and we will have to wait until next year to see if the method used has succeeded in killing off the plant in treated areas.
The future partnership will see the team fully equipped with brushcutters and knapsacks (for clearing and spraying respectively), which allow for improved efficiency in the effort of eradicating this plant from the Liesbeek system.
There are plans to map the distribution of Purple lossestrife towards the end of January – beginning of February – to help identify areas of concern. During this time information flyers will be used to inform the public about the plant will be handed out as well.
In an effort to increase the public’s interaction with the space along the river, Kevin and I came up with the idea (well it was more Kevin actually) to erect exercise stations -simple metal structures which can be used to do particular exercises – along the pathways next to the river. This idea has been well received by residents along the river, and subsequently two sites have been identified as pilot sites to test the reaction of the general public to this idea. The first site is at Roslyn Park, and the second is along the path opposite Stark Ayres. I have had meetings with City Parks Dept., Councillors and residents with regards to the placement of these exercise stations, the amount and the type of units to be built. We want three or four units built (each offering a different exercise), and aimed at doing basic exercises.
I have made contact with Roggebaai Rotary Club who sponsored the development of the exercise area in Green Point Park. They had an estimate of between R12 000 – R15 000 per unit. Therefore, we will need to look at potential funders for the construction of these exercise stations along the river. A possible funder, mentioned by Kevin, was Discovery Health and perhaps we will need to look into other health insurance/gym franchises as well. I am in the process of finalising designs and costs so we can approach sponsors with a professional proposal.
Control burn at Arboretum:
During a visit to the Arboretum, I had the idea of potentially doing a control burn in a small area to see if any remnants of serotinous fynbos species still existed in the area. I have met with Cllr Brunette and showed her around the Arboretum, for the first time. She agreed with the proposed idea of the control burn, and I then got in touch with the respective residence associations for their consent/support to the burn. The Bishopscourt Residence Association (BRA), had an issue with some residence having thatched roofs and who would be accountable should anything happen to the property because of the burn. Consequently, I think the idea of doing a control burn has been put on ice. However, I did receive an email saying how no positive outcome had been noticed by some residents from the BRA, of the work done by the Friends of the Liesbeek. I did go on to explain the earlier work done by Liz Wheeler in the area with regards to the removal of alien plants in the area and the efforts made to clean the ponds of duck weed. However, I would like to see the team do more work in this area, as it too has great potential. I would like to propose approaching the BRA and asking whether they would be interested in sponsoring the team do work in the area.
Pollution spills in the River:
The amount of pollution spills from storm water drains in the last couple of weeks has been completely unacceptable. The fact that this apparently occurs all the time shows complete unawareness by surrounding residents. Unfortunately, the response time to these incidents by the city is inappropriate; however they are a very small team responsible for a very large area. I would like to suggest writing an article for submission to the Tattler on this subject, and I am more than willing to accept any other suggestions.