‘My name is Leon Dingwall, from Sassmeer Estate. The civic and surrounding area needed a total clean up particularly with the port Jackson growing out of control, and on behalf of our ratepayers association… I can say thanks very much to the people who rocked up here this morning to clear the area of alien vegetation, I think it was nice of them and the area does look much better for it.’
Leon was one of several Sassmeer Estate residents who join the Hackathon Saturday, 9 April. He joined fifty others of all ages from various areas in clearing the Port Jacksons and litter in the dunes behind the Retreat Civic.
The event was organised jointly by the Princess Vlei Forum and the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society. We were also assisted by four people from the River Ambassador’s project managed by Nature Connect,. Their chains saws, strength and expertise were much appreciated.
The event was well-supported by the City, with Ward Cllr Kevin Southgate, and PR Cllr Patricia Van der Ross who came with the team from her office. She is the Mayco member for Community health and Safety.
Speaking to the People’s Post, Cllr Southgate said, ‘The hackathon is part of our ongoing commitment to remove the alien Port Jackson trees from within the Princess Vlei Park. It allows us to experience and enjoy the fynbos growing in the area.
‘Port Jacksons not only threaten the fynbos, but can create overgrown areas where antisocial activities can take place. “From the objects that we removed it is clear that [people] use the area to sort goods and burn wires which one assumes could be stolen copper.’ (People’s Post 12 April 2022)
According to Alex Lansdowne, who co-ordinates the Princess Vlei Forum’s Fynbos Restoration Project, ‘the Princess Vlei Dunes to the south of the Vlei constitute the most intact vegetation, and contain 65% of all indigenous species occurring in the Greater Princess Vlei Conservation Area. Cape Flats Dune Strandveld is a critically endangered vegetation type and is endemic to Cape Town. However large Port Jackson trees have been growing for many years in the dune slacks unmanaged. This is not only a threat to the biodiversity but aid also a safety concern, encouraging antisocial activities such as illegal dumping.
‘This hack expands the management profile of the Princess Vlei Forum to the Retreat & Sassmear side of the Vlei.’
Also in attendance were four volunteers from a film direction company called Rewild Africa. In the words of Carter, Rewild Africa ‘focusses on story telling and solutions to ecological restoration…we identify different community initiatives around ecological restoration and we identify opportunities to tell that story and share with the world so that people can be inspired in other parts of the world to do the same.
‘Here at the Princess Vlei and we have a whole community coming together to do invasive species removal, to make sure that this place remains biodiverse and beautiful. Its incredible to see all this community coming together, especially for a place with such rich cultural history.’
After working hard for two hours, volunteers gathered at the Jolly Carp for some well earned refreshments and to share stories from the morning.
By the end of the morning there were two large piles of felled Port Jacksons ready for collection by the CoCT team, as well as several bags of litter. Equally important, new community connections have been forged which will strengthen the network we need to actively conserve and restore these critical pockets of biodiversity.
The Princess Vlei Forum would like to thank all those who came out to support the event, and to urge all community members to get involved in helping us conserve our highly threatened biodiversity. These beautiful plants not only sooth our souls, but are essential carbon sinks to help fight the growing threat of catastrophic climate change.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.