Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter May/June 2007
JUNE ACTIVITIES
WALK – We invite all our members and their friends to join us for a walk-about in the Diep River area.
Date & Time:   SUNDAY 10 JUNE at 14h30
Details:     Meet on the corner of Gie Rd and Parklands Main Rd. There is a circle at the intersection with a fuel station/garage on the southwest corner with parking available just alongside in Parklands Main Rd (next to a development called Manhattan). We will gather on the verge in front of the garage at 14h30 sharp. Please wear comfortable walking shoes, bring binoculars if you have them and a small snack. The walk will be approximately 2 hours. We look forward to meeting Sandiso Kraai, our new TMF funded conservator, who will show us the area and the work he is doing.
TALK – We invite all interested to come and see/hear a presentation to be given by the three nature conservation students who are working at Rietvlei this year. They will introduce their research projects for the year.
Date & Time:    TUESDAY 26 JUNE at 19h30 for 20h00
Details:       Meet at the Education Centre at Rietvlei, off Sandpiper Rd, Table View.
For any queries on the walk or talk please contact Pauline on 083 255 2537 or info@friendsofrietvlei.co.za
 
AGM REPORTBACK
We had an excellent turnout for our recent AGM which was also attended by a number of visitors. In addition to the existing committee members, who agreed to stand for re-election, we are fortunate in having gained Niel van Wyk as an additional committee member. Niel was responsible for setting up our excellent and user friendly new website, which we encourage members to visit frequently as it is always being updated by Niel with current news and photographs.
The committee for 2007/2008 is then as follows:
Nelis Visagie : Chairman, Pat Titmuss : Treasurer/Conservation, Pauline Potton : Secretary,
John Herring : Membership, Barbara Banks : Newsletter, Niel van Wyk : Website/Conservation
We once again urge members to offer the committee their assistance with the various projects that are always on the go and which would benefit from your help. Perhaps you would like to assist with conservation, or fundraising, or keeping an eye on our indigenous garden? Are you a keen birder? Many of our members would love to go for walks with someone who is a keen birdwatcher. So why not contact any one of the committee members if you would like to take a more active role in supporting Friends of Rietvlei!
 
Fish Mortalities – December 2006
At our AGM we had a presentation given by Niel van Wyk on the fish mortalities in Rietvlei in December 2006. An estimated 80 tons of dead fish were removed from the vlei, and there has been much speculation on what caused this massive die-off. Analysis of the water at the time has confirmed that a drastic drop in oxygen levels was the reason for the fish dying off. It is interesting to note that only species that cannot survive in low oxygen conditions were affected, but the carp populations were virtually unaffected. Eutrophication in estuaries is a natural phenomenon. It is a result of the very essential and very complex primary productivity processes occurring in the estuary. Estuaries are highly productive ecosystems and nutrients inevitably build up over time and get trapped in deep-water areas like Rietvlei. It was this build-up of nutrient levels that led to increased algal growth and an eventual decrease in oxygen levels in the water. Although there was no direct pollution causing this particular die-off, inflow of water with high nutrient levels from the Diep River and Potsdam sewage works over many years will also have contributed to increased levels of nitrogen, phosphates, etc in Rietvlei. This will have contributed to the eutrophication process. And what about the poor fish – although it was sad to see so many fish die, we need not be too concerned that natural populations were affected negatively. The species involved were mostly grey mullet and sea harder, both are marine species and are well represented out at sea. They are prolific breeders and the young will enter the Diep River estuary during spring and early summer and will no doubt re-establish populations in Rietvlei.
 
ADVERTISING SPACE

If there are members who would like the opportunity to advertise in our newsletter, please let us know. You may have a business or property that you wish to advertise at an affordable cost and by advertising in our newsletter, you will be assisting us with raising funds for our conservation projects. We particularly want to raise more funds for the Diep River project. Please contact the treasurer, Pat Titmuss, on pat@friendsofrietvlei.co.za or 021 557 3748 a/h for further information.
WEBSITE USAGE & EXCITING NEWS
Our new website became operative early in July 2006, since then the site has had more than 2600 unique visitors. (A unique visit is one viewer visiting and navigating through the website – hits would be much higher because it counts each time a viewer visits a page, and some hit counters will count components on each page as individual hits; but this is not really a true reflection of the number of visitors as one visitor could be recorded as 50 hits). The highest number of visitors we had was in October 2006 (388), but since then we have been recording an average of 250 visitors a month. The website needs information and input from members to keep it interesting. We would love to have photographs, news items, or anything that you think will be interesting. Although we cannot update the website every few hours like the news sites, we would like to make it more interactive and thus more interesting for our members. CONTACT NIEL VAN WYK ON niel@bluecape.co.za with your contributions. WEBSITE www.friendsofrietvlei.co.za
KEEP UP WITH RIETVLEI INFORMATION! ********* You have probably seen the newspaper coverage but there was great excitement when the rare bird Wilson's Phalarope, Phalaropes tricolor, was spotted at the Dolphin Beach ponds section of the reserve. See the photos on the website!!
 
MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL
Another payment of your subscription is required at this time of the year. Our financial year closed at the end of March, so it is time again to support our organisation with your money. Life or Ten Year members do not have to pay but all Ordinary, Family and Corporate members do have to. You received a renewal form with the March newsletter so please make your payment ASAP if you haven’t done so yet – Thank you to all the members who have already paid!
 
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTRE
We are concerned that the centre is not being used enough for school outings so if you know of a school or class wanting to visit Rietvlei please email the details to info@friendsofrietvlei.co.za or phone Pat on 021 5573748 a/h.
 
Royal Ascot Environmental Management Committee
The Royal Ascot Environmental Management Committee (EMC) meets regularly and the committee consists of representatives of the following organisations: City of Cape Town, Friends of Rietvlei, Milnerton Ridge Residents Association, Royal Ascot Master Property Owners Association, Botanical Society of South Africa, Gold Circle, Environmental Conservation Manager.The committee was originally established to ensure that developers and contractors in Royal Ascot adhere to the environmental requirements as set out in various Environmental Management Plans. Now that the development phase is reaching its final stages, the committee has more time to focus on the management of the very important conservation area which is situated within the perimeter of the old race track.The Friends of Rietvlei is represented on this committee as the development and future activities in the area could impact on the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. The main concern has been the possibility of pollutants from development activities entering the Diep River or Rietvlei, but rigid application of environmental protection measures by the Environmental Site Officer, in particular ensuring that contractors adhere to these measures, has prevented any negative occurences.
Highlights of the past year:
1. The committee revisited its constitution and at the end of 2006 accepted a revised constitution that will meet the future requirements of the committee more adequately. The previous constitution was originally drawn up at the start of the Royal Ascot development and laid more emphasis on the development aspects of Royal Ascot. The revised constitution makes better provision for conservation management.
2. The most important development has been the acceptance of an Environmental Management System for the conservation area. The conservation area is small, less than 20ha, but it has more than 250 plant species of which at least 12 are threatened species. The Environmental Management System clearly sets out policies and management objectives, it incorporates manuals on management procedures, establishing and maintaining a database, as well as assessing and reporting back on procedures. Other conservation areas could benefit by adopting a similar management system.
3. The environmental management and consulting firm Planning in Balance have been contracted to manage the conservation area. They were also responsible for the Environmental Management System.
4. At the meeting at the end of March 2007 the committee was informed that the conservation area has now finally been transferred to the City Council.
The implementation of the Environmental Management System and the establishment of an environmental database to ensure successful and efficient management procedures, is a high priority for the committee for the coming year. The committee will be monitoring the final residential developments in the northern portion of Royal Ascot, as well as keeping an eye on future developments on the still vacant plots next to Racecourse Road. The future of the racecourse precinct along Koeberg Road, while no cause for concern at this stage, is also on the agenda.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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