Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter June/July 2008
Well – we’ve had our AGM and started on a new year. The members voted to accept a new constitution for Friends of Rietvlei, we can now apply for Nonprofit Organisation status, as well as apply for income tax exemption. The first step, to obtain ratification of the constitution from the Western Cape Branch of WESSA, has already been done – we recently received this ratification. We will now formally apply to the Directorate of Nonprofit Organisations to be registered as a Nonprofit Organisation. Once we have obtained our NPO number, we can apply for Exemption from Income Tax. However, do not expect this process to be finalised quickly, we expect it to take several months.
At the AGM committee members were elected, at the first committee meeting after the AGM these members were elected to various positions as follows:
   Chairman: Nelis Visagie
   Secretary: Pauline Potton
   Treasurer & Conservation: Pat Titmuss
   Membership: John Herring
   Newsletter, Website & Conservation: Niel van Wyk
After serving on our committee for several years, Barbara Banks did not stand again due to work pressure – we thank Barbara for her contribution over the years, and hope to still see her at our outings and evening talks.
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 who have not yet renewed their membership must please do so. You received a renewal form with the April newsletter, the form is also available on the website; so please make your payment ASAP if you haven’t done so yet.
Thank you to all the members who have already paid!
Walks & Talks
At the AGM Niel van Wyk gave a talk on the Origin of Rietvlei – the talk described how the influence of changing sea levels and wind and wave action over the years has formed our coastline, Rietvlei and the Diep River estuary. After the talk there was some interesting discussion. Portions of the presentation will be placed on the website in due course.
Our next evening talk will be presentations by the students working in Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve on the projects they will be doing this year. This will be on Tuesday 22 July 2008 at 19h30 for 20h00 in the Rietvlei Education Centre. Please come and encourage the students as well as take the time to find out what studies are being undertaken at Rietvlei. Sandiso Kraai who has been working in the Diep River conservation area for over a year now, will also give a report back on his work.
We are also organising a walk in Zoarvlei to see the interesting work that Frank Wygold has been doing there. This will be on Sunday 27 July, meeting at 2pm at the bottom of Wemyss Road Brooklyn, next to the historic homestead, Klein Zoar. There is a parking area at the end of the cul-de-sac and next to a sports field. Wear comfy walking shoes but there is a path most of the way around the vlei. For queries contact Pat on 021 5573647 (a/h) or Pauline on 083 255 2537.
Environmental Education Centre
Those of you who attended the AGM would have seen the wall mounted projection screen and whiteboard that we purchased and installed in the Education Centre. To add to this Chevron has donated a data projector to the centre – these days people presenting courses or giving talks often use PowerPoint presentations from laptop computers. The data projector means that we no longer have to scrounge around to borrow a projector when it is required. The Friends would like to thank Phumi Nhlapo, Public Affairs Manager at Chevron Refinery, for arranging this donation.
We are also 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 or phone Pat on 021 5573748 a/h. There may also be adult groups that are interested in an outing and a presentation about Rietvlei or wetlands, they are also welcome to contact us.
Proposed upgrading of the Bayside Canal
You are all aware of the rather bad state of the Bayside Canal running past Bayside Centre and Pick & Pay into the northwestern reedbed of Rietvlei. The water quality of this canal and the possible negative effects on Rietvlei has been a matter of some concern for several years now.
The City of Cape Town has now appointed consultants to investigate the upgrading of the canal to cater for a 1 in 50 year storm event, as well as provide adequate measures for pollution control of the storm water runoff before it enters Rietvlei. The engineering consultant is BKS (Pty) Ltd, who have appointed CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd as an independent environmental consultant to undertake the basic environmental assessment. The project is basically looking at the canal south of Link Road, but they are also considering proposals about the storm water channels north of Link Road which may alleviate the problems in Bayside Canal.
An open day was held in the Milnerton Library Hall on 27 May 2008 where the project details were presented to the public, comments had to be submitted to the consultants before 6 June 2008.
An interesting fact established by the consultants is that the water quality in Bayside Canal is not all that bad, in fact analyses indicate that there has actually been an improvement in chemical water quality over the years. What is bad is the litter problem, and the increase in human activity in and around the canal is something that must be addressed urgently. Your committee is satisfied that the consultants are addressing the problems, we have made some comments which mostly support the consultants’ suggestions. We will of course be following the whole investigation with interest and will keep you informed of progress.
Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area
Are you aware of this little jewel of a conservation area right in the middle of northern Milnerton. The conservation area in the centre of the old Milnerton Royal Ascot Racecourse (which is now used as a training track for horses) is one of the most important conservation areas in the Cape Peninsula. Only 18ha in size, it has 232 recorded plant species of which at least 12 have Red Data status – that is endangered and highly vulnerable. Nearly surrounded by the Royal Ascot development, this conservation area is divided into 2 portions – a northern portion which has a path which is open to the public, and a larger southern portion which is closed to the public because of the vulnerability of the plantlife.
As briefly mentioned in our previous newsletter, about half of the southern area was burnt in a controlled fire in April. This fynbos type needs to be burnt every 8 to 12 years, but it appears that there has not been a fire in the area for at least 30 years – so a burn was very much overdue. The fire itself was very successful; it took less than an hour to complete the burn, but caused considerable interest in the area.
A survey at the end of last year had indicated that there were at least 24 grysbokkies in the conservation area – this was far too many as the area theoretically should only be able to support 4 to 6 grysbokkies. Before and after the burn a capturing operation was launched to remove as many of the excess grysbokkies as possible; over several captures they caught about 20 grysbok – these have been relocated to other conservation areas and several farms where farmers are conserving them.
The first day of June was a beautiful fresh sunny day after heavy rains had cleared the air and started to fill the reserve.. A quick trip to Rietvlei revealed about 250 flamingoes on the Central Pan. Two fish eagles soared overhead. A black-shouldered kite kept watch from a dead tree. 30 pelicans snoozed in the sun on the bank between South and North Vleis. Sacred Ibis, Blackwinged stilts, Egyptian geese, yellow-billed duck, guinea fowl and many others were out enjoying the sun. Rietvlei really is good place to visit!!
New bird hide
After eighteen months of planning and organizing the financing, a new bird hide has been erected by the City of Cape Town on the eastern edge of South Vlei. It can be seen across the water when you drive along the R27 adjacent to the South Vlei. It will provide good birding opportunities in summer when other parts of the reserve are dry. At present it is not accessible due to rising water levels and a boardwalk that still needs to be built.
There have been several staffing changes in the Western Cape Branch of WESSA. Sharon Bosma is Acting Regional Manager for a fixed period of 3 months, during which time a new Regional Manager will be recruited. Steve du Toit is Head of Conservation, and Patrick Dowling is Head of Education, Training & Public Capacity Building.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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