Herbs - Newsletter of Hermanus Botanical Society
Fernkloof Nature Reserve
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OCF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD GOES TO OUR PRESIDENT
Secrets surfaced at the 46th AGM of our society last month when Priscilla Drewe was
given the highest accolade of the Overstrand Conservation Foundation –
the Lifetime Achievement Award. Surprised and gratified, our president
listened to a tribute from her close friend Anne Bean, who had been spirited
here for the occasion, and received the framed award from OCF chairperson Anina Lee.
There have been only two other recipients of this prestigious award, given in
recognition of exceptional services to conservation. They are Avril Nunn from
Betty’s Bay and Belle Barker, Fernkloof flower lady and hacker supreme.
Anne, former scientific officer at the Compton Herbarium, spoke of the days
when she first met Priscilla and ‘Doc’ Williams on the mountain slopes of
Fernkloof and Vogelgat. She recalled how:
FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE LIVING CLASSROOM – a Proposal for a Joint OCF Botanical Society Environmental Education Programme
|Arising out of the latest flower show project, Conservation through Education, discussions have been taking place between the Overstrand Conservation Foundation and the Hermanus Botsoc. The OCF office is proposing an active partnership with our society in which both bodies jointly identify and define environmental education needs and design and implement ways of meeting these needs through the Fernkloof Reserve. An Eco-Schools Programme is in place and Overstrand schools are being encouraged to register and participate. The programme is partially sponsored by WWF-SA and WESSA, and the Lotteries Fund has been approached for substantial funding. To initiate the joint programme the plan is for a working group to be formed, with three members from each body to define the project and propose a budget for consideration. More about this exciting project in our next newsletter…|
BIRDS OR BATS?
There was much surreptitious scurrying around at 4 am on the morning of
25 November as our team prepared to set out for Birding Big Day,
a country-wide competition to see who can spot the most bird species
in 24 hours. Our team, the Hermanus Harriers (the Crazy Coots might have
been more appropriate) was determined to get off to a good start in
the hope of finding one or two elusive night species before dawn.
We set off in the direction of Fernkloof and there, would you believe it,
sitting in the middle of the road, was a Fiery-necked Nightjar.
More often heard than seen, this was mega-tick No 1.
But alas, thereafter, fortune failed us and not a single Spotted
Eagle Owl put in an appearance.
But we were amply rewarded a little later as the dawn chorus began
and in the early morning light we began ticking off the awakening
daytime birds, of which there were more than enough to keep us
happily engaged for the next hour or so. Our long day ended at
about 8 pm after much driving from place to place and a frustrating
search in the fading light for a Fish Eagle which,alas, continued
to elude us. Highlight of the day was a nest in an old farm shed
with three white fluffy Barn Owl chicks peering out at us.
A PROLIFERATION OF YOUNG PINES IN THE FERNKLOOF RESERVE
is a matter of great concern says Dr D C Moran , professor emeritus
of the University of Cape Town and environmental and ecological consultant.
In a recent letter to the Chairman of the Fernkloof Advisory Board
Dr Moran states:
I need to stress (if that is necessary) that the invasion of young pines on the mountain slopes in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve behind Hermanus Heights (above the level of the power lines) is in need of urgent attention. I have done a very rough estimate of population numbers by pacing out sectors of approximately 100 metres along the Klipspringer contour path and counting the numbers of small pine trees that I can see with the naked eye above and below the path. My counts are between 400 to 500 pines per sector. These of course will be gross underestimates – there is no doubt that I can see just a fraction of the pines that are actually present. But given this as a start, I estimate that the populations of small pines from Elephant path in the West to the Botanical Society offices must number at least 15 000. I think you could multiply that number by 3, 4, or 5 times at least to give you a true figure. I may even have underestimated by an order of magnitude. (I should have done an estimate of the multiplication factor.) Anyway the point is, if we are lucky there are only 20000 to 50 000 young pines that need to be removed from that area. And time is obviously of the essence – most of the pines are presently less than a metre tall (relatively easy to sever at the base with a machete). In a year’s time the costs and efforts required will have escalated hugely, and left just a bit longer until cones are produced, the problem will be beyond our reach perhaps forever and the mountain will be lost to pines. I fully appreciate the magnitude of the problem even now (perhaps we are already talking about costs in the region of R100 000?) but if we don’t do something now then I sadly predict that we will have let the last opportunity slip. The Fernkloof Advisory Board, at their meeting on 24.11.06, promised that all necessary steps to clear the upper slopes of the reserve would be taken in the next few months. Also discussed were the pros and cons of having a small dedicated well-trained team on permanent alien vegetation removal duty as opposed to using contract workers en masse and less often.
DID YOU KNOW?
|HACKING MEETS :||08:00||September - March|
|08:30||April - August|
|Tuesdays (third of each month) :||February 20|
|The Mossel River needs your help! Hacks at present meet at the top of Riverside Road, Voëlklip. Sesbania, Acacia longifolia, baby gums are just some of the alien vegetation that need to be eradicated.||For further information contact Bob Hill 028-3121463|
OTHER SOCIAL EVENTS :
|February 23||18:00||Annual braai|
|March 5-8||EXCURSION: Swartriet (at Jacobsbaai near Saldanha)|
||8:00||DATY WALK : Die Dam to Quin Point|
||EXCURSION: Goudini Spa|
|For further information re walks please contact Piet Joubert||tel 028-3140264|
|Published by Hermanus Botanical Society,
PO Box 208,
Editor: GERALDINE GARDINER - Fax (028) 313 0617