If you care for the environment and sometimes wonder if anyone else has similar feelings, you are not alone! I have been fortunate to travel extensively over the last couple of months and have been amazed to see the good work people are doing in east, west and central Africa. All over people are putting in voluntary efforts to ensure the health of the environment is maintained and improved. This has been the simple formula of the Friends of the Liesbeek for over 15 years. It is underpinned by a simple philosophy that it is morally right to take responsibility for natural assets and to recognise that life, other than human life, also has the right to life in an environment that is not unhealthy. I am more than convinced of the ability and will of people to take care in such matters. You have no need to feel alone or frustrated when nothing seems to get done. Sometimes the response is slow but it is good to see people making a difference in a variety of circumstances.
I want to use these forthcoming newsletters to communicate a number of things happening on the Liesbeek. They are intended as snippets of information. If I am really organised, I shall try to write these electronic letters a little more frequently (no promises though!).
You should take a moment to walk along the Liesbeek in the Bishopscourt Village area (adjacent to Upper Noreen Avenue which is between the Liesbeek and Edinburgh Drive). Dr Joan Parker and Mathews Moetsi have done a fantastic job together with the Bishopscourt Village Ratepayers Association. Era Steer Constantiaberg sponsors Mathews’ wage for three days each week. They have transformed the banks of the Liesbeek. In February 2004 the slopes of this part of the Liesbeek were degraded and covered in lantana and bramble. Now there is a garden of beauty. There are pathways through some wonderful shrubbery, picnic tables and chairs, and an exposed river running in an ‘almost natural’ river bed. It is so refreshing to see what can be done. Joan claims that the success of this venture is not only about the rehabilitation of the river banks but the improved relationships in the neighbourhood. People have got to know each other as neighbours and have formed a ‘community’ in the true sense of the word. Go and look for yourself or join the Friends of Liesbeek on a walk at the next opportunity.
Alongside is a picture of Joan taken at a recent outing in which Liz Wheeler guided a group from the Friends of Lions Head along the Liesbeek. Joan met the group in ‘her’ garden and explained how she had established the initiative.
The Committee continues to meet regularly. There is always a lot to address including issues of illegal dumping; finding ways to take responsibility for various issues; and a plethora of building development plans to consider. I have no doubt that the state of the river would be very different without the vigilance, lobbying activities and good work performed by Friends. Meanwhile, the Liesbeek Maintenance Team of Siphele Sontundu, David Nyathela and Siyanda Mlalandle, sponsored mainly by the SA Breweries, Western Province Rugby, Tuffy Brands and the Newlands Residents’ Association as well as individual Friends, keeps busy cleaning, pruning and planting along the river and the Trail.
You are most welcome to join us in our many varied activities and tasks, and to participate in committee meetings! The next Committee meeting will be on the 6th of December. Above all, please bring issues, problems and suggestions to the committee either by email to Liz Wheeler, secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org or myself (see email address below). We welcome your input.
Take care and enjoy the river.
(Chairman: Friends of the Liesbeek)