New offices for Flower Valley

Flower Valley Conservation Trust has moved into new offices in Bredasdorp. This office isoffice the home of the Trust’s administrative activities. However, the Trust’s official home remains Flower Valley Farm, based just outside Gansbaai, in the Overstrand Municipality.

The new address of the Trust is 44 Villiers Street in Bredasdorp. We look forward to welcoming all our partners and friends to the new premises.

Map & Directions

Research training on Flower Valley Farm

Local people working as fynbos harvesters and farmworkers have been receiving researchfynbosresearch and monitoring training on Flower Valley Farm – with the aim to ultimately become ‘custodians’ of our veld. Under the Agulhas Plain Fynbos Monitoring Project, the trainees are receiving skills to effectively monitor the natural vegetation, and to help spot any potential threats to our fynbos.

The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (implemented by the United Nations Development Programme). Through the project, up to 30 trainees have now received training in understanding fynbos, sustainable harvesting, and now in research and monitoring.

The training will be completed in November, with candidates to write exams on what they have learnt. After that, the field monitors will return to their areas of work, to monitor the fynbos veld. Some of the trainees are also involved in the ABI Alien Clearing Project – giving them the opportunity to monitor the effects of removing invasive alien plants on fynbos. Few alien clearing projects include research on the impacts on natural vegetation over the long term.

Flower Valley forest highlighted this Arbor Week

Flower Valley Conservation Trust celebrates Arbor Week through its Stinkhoutsbos Forest

Flower Valley staff planting a tree

Flower Valley staff planting a tree

Restoration Project. The national Arbor Week theme this year is ‘Our Forests – Our Future’. The theme is in line with the United Nations focus in 2012, the International Year of the Forests.

Flower Valley staff will plant trees at its Stinkhoutsbos Forest. The restoration project is driven by Flower Valley Trustee Sean Privett. Recent assessments found that only three hectares remain of the Stinkhoutsbos Forest on Flower Valley Farm. In the 1930s, the forest was eight hectares in size. However, a wildfire in 2006 destroyed parts of the forest. Prior to that, the forest was cut down for the furniture trade by Italian Prisoners of War during the Second World War.

Through the project, visitors to Flower Valley Farm are encouraged to plant a tree to help re-establish the forest. The aim is to increase it by at least five hectares.

Flower Valley’s farm team is, through a donation from Flower Valley friend Mike Gibbs,

Sean Privett and Mike Gibbs planting trees in Stinkhoutsbos

Sean Privett and Mike Gibbs planting trees in Stinkhoutsbos

completing a firebreak around the forest. This will help protect the Stinkhoutsbos Forest as the fire season approaches.

South Africa celebrates Arbor Week between 1 and 7 September. The aim is to raise awareness of the value of trees.

Transformation ‘makes economic sense’

Transformation of the agriculture sector is not a nice-to-have, but an essential Transformation-makes-economic-sense-2012-05-28development if the sector is to remain relevant. But transformation need not be daunting, and can offer farmers economic benefits. These were some of the messages from the Transformation Seminar, hosted by the PPSA in Stellenbosch on 15 May.

The seminar, attended by Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gerrit van Rensburg, sought to show fynbos and fruit farmers working transformation projects in the Western Cape. According to AgriSA Deputy President Theo de Jager, transforming the sector is crucial. “There’s no alternative to transformation – it must work. And it’s not government’s job, it’s our job.” De Jager said transformation projects must make economic sense, and this success should be marketed to foreigners.

A black economic empowerment (BEE) consultant, Graeme Dorrington, agreed that opportunities abound. “There are big opportunities in enterprise development, and that excites me. We are in a situation where we should move away from a compliance mindset, and look at the opportunities instead.”

However, according to one of the PPSA directors, Marius Huysamer, there are no quick successes. Of the successful transformation projects studied at the seminar, none could start paying dividends to the beneficiaries of the projects in under four years. He said, “Start your project now, as it will already take two years to get it started. This is a long-term business, and there is a danger in delaying any longer.”

Alien clearing efforts on Agulhas Plain enhanced

The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative’s (ABI) interim coordination unit is launching a renewed campaign to eradicate invasive alien plants on the Agulhas Plain. ABI is revamping its Alien Clearing Work Group, to meet new goals for 2012. The group had its first meeting in February. Flower Valley Conservation Trust is overseeing the interim coordination of ABI 2.

Invasive alien plants are considered the biggest threat to the country’s biological diversity and water security. According to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), they use up to 13 percent of available surface water on the Plain. On a national scale, alien plants are believed to reduce annual water flow by more than three billion cubic metres.

According to Roger Bailey, Chairman of the group, with the world focusing on water in March, ABI is re-emphasising the impact of aliens on water resources. “Currently there is a global lack of awareness and understanding of the threats posed by alien plants. So with National Water Week having been celebrated in March, this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the challenges created by aliens, especially to water resources.”

The ABI Alien Management Coordination Group is the proposed name for the collaboration between organisations involved in this area. It is a unique initiative that is creating common ground in the Overberg for stakeholders, funders and private landowners to coordinate their alien clearing activities.

Bailey says, “Without coordination, collective action and follow up, clearing the land of aliens is futile. Aliens will simply regrow, and neighbours will keep re-infesting each other’s properties, wasting the little money that is available for clearing.” The group is to develop strategic action plans to clear aliens across the Agulhas Plain and ultimately the whole district. This coordination function within ABI is being funded by the Drakenstein Trust.

ABI is currently preparing for its second phase, with ABI Phase One having ended in 2010. A steering group was selected last year to drive the creation of ABI Phase Two.