Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter Spring 2012
Talk by Bongani Mnisi on Tuesday 18 September at 8pm
Heritage Day talk and outing on Monday 24 September at 9am
Meeting place for the above activities is at Eerstesteen, Coastal Road, between Big Bay and Melkbosstrand. Contact Ena de Villers on 076 335 1225 for details and see email and website updates.
The official launch of the Table Bay Nature Reserve by the Mayor, Alderman Patricia de Lille, on 27 June 2012, was the highlight of the last few months. This was also the official opening of the long awaited new offices for the reserve management at Rietvlei. The event was attended by various stakeholders and the media, which received wide coverage in the local press.
The Table Bay Nature Reserve (TBNR) comprises of a number of sections: these are the Diep River section north of the Blaauwberg Road bridge and which includes the Parklands Fynbos Corridor; the Rietvlei section which is the original Rietvlei Wetland Reserve; the Coastal section along the coast from Dolphin Beach southwards past Sunset Beach; Zoarvlei and the Paarden Island wetlands; and finally the Milnerton Racecourse section in Royal Ascot. Each of these sections have unique management challenges, and with the management staff under Koos Retief now settling into their new offices, we wish them well in tackling these challenges.
Three EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) teams have been busy clearing woody alien invasives and Typha capensis reeds in various areas on the reserve. Funding has also been available to get a team in to clear water hyacinth from the Diep River system. The section north of Otto du Plessis Bridge on the R27 was particularly badly infested. This team has been active clearing water hyacinth both north and south of the bridge over the last few months. The winter rains also caused clumps of water hyacinth to be washed into the lagoon. Fortunately the team has been dragging the floating mass out of the water in the area between the old Wooden Bridge and the new concrete bridge. There were fears that a massive build-up of plant material against the decaying bridge might cause the bridge to collapse.
The EPWP teams are providing a large workforce, such that has never been seen in the reserve before. Whilst it has created much additional supervisory work for the permanent reserve staff, it is wonderful to see fences and fire breaks cleared, Port Jackson and Rooikrans chopped, kikuyu sprayed, water hyacinth hauled out of the waterways and mush more.
One of the successful interventions at Rietvlei has been to arrest the erosion of the north shore bank. Erosion, caused by wave action, was collapsing the bank west of the entrance gate, and it was originally suggested that gabions should be used to stabilise the bank. However, it was felt that gabions may not solve the problem, and that a softer more natural approach should be tried. The reed Phragmites australis was planted along the bank a few years ago, and this year more reeds and sedges were planted to augment the reed beds. These appear to be very effective in breaking the wave action and allowing grass and other vegetation to stabilise the previously exposed bank.
A small eroding area was similarly stabilised on the Milnerton Lagoon/Golfcourse bank recently. The work was undertaken by the Golf Club staff, under the guidance of Koos Retief.
WESSA Western Cape held its 64th regional meeting at Intaka Island on 16 August. In spite of a rainy day and a cold evening, the function was well attended, including representatives from Friends of Rietvlei, Friends of BCA and Friends of Zoarvlei.
Alan Liebenberg from Intaka Island gave a brief presentation on how Intaka Island came to be formed; Mike Ward, Chief Operations Officer of the Wildlife and Environment Society, told us about WESSA’s national strategies; and the local WESSA staff highlighted the regional activities over the past year.
The annual awards for contributions to environmental conservation were presented to various people and groups. WESSA received over 30 nominations, but only 11 awards in four different categories were issued.
The guest speaker was Dr Carl Palmer from ACCESS (Applied Centre for Climate and Earth System Science). ACCESS is a community of scientists from a range of natural and physical science fields focusing on the study of earth systems and their dynamics. The presentation entitled “How Biology affects Climate” illustrated how climate change over millions of years had been induced by changes in the biology on earth, most notably by the spreading and shrinking of vegetation cover resulting in changes in the earth’s average temperature.
Dr Palmer did not mention this in his presentation, but it did highlight one of the major dilemmas facing scientists studying climate change today – and this is quite simply to distinguish between climate change caused by natural changes on earth, and that induced by man. This is further complicated by the fact that most scientists acknowledge that at least part of man’s contribution to climate change can be regarded as ‘natural’.
Several of the applications for which we submitted environmental inputs are still on-going. The biosolids beneficiation plant proposed for the Vissershok area is now proceeding to the next stage where a full environmental impact study has to be done. In the draft basic assessment phase three alternative sites for this plant was identified.
Environmental authorisation was issued for the Killarney Junction development east of the intersection between Blaauwberg and Koeberg/Potsdam Roads – the authorisation requires stormwater detention ponds on site which addresses our concerns about possible impact on the Diep River, and hence into the sensitive seasonal pans of Rietvlei.
The Gold Circle (land containing the stables and training track for racehorses, next to Koeberg Road) development application was re-advertised at the end of July as the 30 months had lapsed since the original application for rezoning to subdivisional area had been advertised. Royal Ascot residents have objected to the development. Friends of Rietvlei is concerned about the possible impact on the adjacent Milnerton Racecourse section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve – our earlier proposal for adequate buffer zones is still on the table.
Our indigenous garden at the bottom end of Grey Avenue is improving gradually under Gail McDonald’s keen attention. She needs assistance and is still looking for donations of suitable plants or snips, as well as any pair of hands keen to help her in the garden. She would also welcome watchful eyes keeping the area free of damage from dog-walkers and plant thieves!! Have you visited the labyrinth in the garden?
Contact Gail on 082 937 8759.
Environmental Education Centre – 021 521 9900
Emergencies and standby number -  071 268 9637
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