Flower Valley Latest News for July 2021

We are half-way through the 2021 year, and it is time to share some of the news from the Valley.

Flower Valley has largely focussed on executing our new strategy. We have been gathering baseline data on the trends within the different rural communities of the Overstrand. This is especially important given the extreme changes happening globally and with the COVID lockdowns. South Africa is now in its third lockdown and the  economy uncertainty that had persisted since 2020 remains. How these external factors relate to our local context – where people live in rural landscapes and their complex social and economic difficulties- is the key question.

Understanding where people are currently in terms of their social and economic well-being, will show how the relationship between people and the natural environment will change. With this information Flower Valley is able to stay current and be effective with our interventions for building resilience of people and conservation of  biodiversity.

The Flower Valley team thanks all of our supporters, donors and followers for believing in the work we do, and we hope you enjoy this newsletter.

Kind regards,

The Flower Valley Team

Fantastic News for Fynbos Conservation!

Flower Valley has registered 500 hectares of pristine fynbos (on Flower Valley Farm) into a conservation servitude.

This is done in favour of Fauna and Flora International, one of the world’s leading conservation organisations, who will ensure that all decisions are taken are in the interest of protecting and conserving the biodiveristy of Flower Valley. The conservation servitude protects Flower Valley Farm in perpetuity through a restriction on the property title deed that ensures that only conservation friendly activities are legally allowed on the property. 

This is a fantastic milestone for Flower Valley. The servitude forms a part of the registration process for a Protected Environment for Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, which aims to ensure that the landowners in Walkerbay area will enjoy conservation status that will protect our natural heritage, and be recognised internationally. Thank you to Grootbos Foundation for their support to register the servitude. 

Mobile technology in the workplace

Flower Valley has learnt that the ability to connect and share information between rural communities is severely limited during the COVID lockdowns. In response to this, we have stepped into the gap and provided training in different ways of communicating with stakeholders.

At the same time, there has been a global turning point with the use of mobile technology being used more frequently than desktop computers in November 2020 (mobile units 53% versus desktop units 44%).

This is a cost effective form of communication for those who have limited access to computers, it is available on the go, and provides information at your fingertips. As part of Flower Valley’s new approach to learning, we are expanding into hybrid learning systems. To achieve learning through a combination of technology and in person communications, a number of basic skills must be fostered. This is especially needed with ongoing lockdown limitations, where people are forced to work remotely, and cannot access information.

A range of topics were covered during the one day workshop using mobile technology in the workplace. These include how to activate WiFi versus mobile data, connecting to networks, downloading apps, sharing contacts between co-workers, how to use whatsapp, camscan, zoom, QR-scanning, google maps and more.

The fourteen people who attended the workshop have been involved with Flower Valley’s projects for a number of years, and were the first group of attendees for this new course. Everyone learnt something new about how to use mobile devices and maximise its effectiveness in their work. Now they will also be able to share this new information with their colleagues.

Flower Valley intends to host more of these workshops once the lock down restrictions have been lifted. With key people in our projects becoming tech savvy, this will allow for greater remote learning and linking them to other courses and content through technology.

Flower Valley People

We all love fynbos and the fantastic diversity found on Flower Valley, but the people in our communities are just as special. While hosting a fynbos flower harvesting course in February this year at the Flower Valley outdoor classroom, we discovered that we had a special guest. Chaney Europa was one of the first young children to attend the early childhood eco-school on Flower Valley Farm in 2003. She describes some her memories of going to school at Flower Valley in this short video clip.

The school has gone through a dramatic transformation over the las few years. Where it was once a space for the playful early learning of children, it is now a place for early-learning teachers to learn how to incorporate play and the outdoors into their own classrooms. It is still a unique and special place for young children to learn about nature.

The Overstrand Rural Youth and Child Survey

As a collective, social service organisations have been unable to find reliable and contemporary information to guide  targeted interventions for optimal impact. The census data collected by the national government misses essential information when it comes to children and youth needs within a local context. A joint strategy to collect this data on community demographics and services was enabled with the help of the Overstrand Municipality. This will  guide  future interventions specifically for the current needs and gaps that are faced by children and youth in the Overstrand areas. 

Reliable data was collected through  a localized census that can inform the development of a youth strategy in a coordinated, transparent and inclusive way  and that is aligned to the Integrated Development Plan. The scope of the survey was broadened to include information relevant to natural resource utilisation and employment in the biodiversity sector. This census took place in Stanford, Pappiesvlei, Eluxolweni,  Buffeljagsbaai, Masakhane and Blompark.

Implementing partners in this survey are Overstrand Municipality, Food4Thought, Ikamva and the Grootbos Foundation. Each organisation contributed towards data, supervision, and travel costs. The Overstrand Municipality, through  their EPWP programme, employed 50 unemployed youth to conduct the census. The Project was halted with the level four lockdown announcement, but most of the data has already been collected to meet objectives.

The insect devouring plants of Flower Valley Farm

Venus flytraps and pitcher plants! These carnivorous plants eat insects as part of their diet.

Within the Western Cape there are ±20 species of Drosera. This high diversity of carnivorous plants is caused by the poor nutrient soils found in the Cape. Carnivorous plants, which have adapted to harsh environments through unique and complex ecology, are some of the most vulnerable species to extinction, because if any part of their complex life cycle is disrupted, they cease to exist. 

At Flower Valley Farm, there are two species of carnivorous plants, from the genus called Drosera, namely D. cistiflora and D. capensis (sundews). Drosera species grow mostly in water seepage are that have acidic soils and are poor in nutrients. The fact that their habitat is within nutrient poor environments, means that these plants need to obtain nutrients from a different source to survive. 

These plants supplement their nutrients by of capturing insects using modified wet and sticky hairs. These  tentacle looking structures are tipped with a drop of sticky fluid, which catches insects that land on the leaves- just like a spider’s web. 
A rapid multiplication of cells on one side of the leaf results in a curling of the leaf around the insect. Drosera releases a chemical (enzymes) from the sticky fluid that digests the insect and allows for the nutrients, which are essential for their daily survival, to be absorbed directly through the leaf.

Drosera has been historically used by Europeans to treat various ailments. They have been used as a treatment for warts and sunburn whereby the extracts were applied externally and for disorders such as tuberculosis, asthma, coughs and toothaches by consuming extracts or tea from the leaves. They are also used as pot plants, because they are one of the hardiest carnivorous plants and for their aesthetic appeal.

Dolfyntjies centre needs your help.

Dolfyntjies Early Childhood Centre (ECD) was founded in 2002 in order to provide a space where children could learn and play in a safe environment in the Eluxolweni community where no quality early childhood services existed.

It is 19 years later and Dolfyntjies remains the only centre for young children in the community. The centre is registered with the Department of Social Development and is able to serve 30 children while meeting and exceeding all the requirements laid out in the Children’s Act.

Eluxolweni faces a myriad of challenges ranging from commercial isolation, unemployment and substance abuse. Dolfyntjies aims to address these challenges by providing a nurturing and stimulating play space that develops social, emotional and neural pathways that are essential for unlocking a childs’ potential. Be it academic or empathetic. The centre immediately impacts households by providing childcare that allows parents to seek economic opportunities previously unavailable to them. 

Dolfyntjies works in partnership with Flower Valley Conservation Trust to provide quality services by continually developing the educators in their practice and expanding the skills necessary to identify delays and intervene appropriately. 

Within this context, the Dolfyntjies ECD has an ongoing struggle to cover the operational costs of running a quality childcare centre, because the grants received and fees are not enough. The most essential service in a community is child development, which is typically the most under funded sector of education in South Africa.

Kindly consider giving towards this centre for their essential services through the link below or contact dolfyntjies@flowervalley.co.za for more information on how to get involved.

Flower Valley is recruiting a service provider to evaluate the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative’s (ABI) Invasive Alien Clearing Project

The appointment of a service provider to evaluate the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative’s (ABI) Invasive Alien Clearing Project implemented by the Flower Valley Conservation Trust, as part of a case study for other ABI projects and to contribute to the ABI Re-visioning process.

  1. Background

 The ABI Alien Clearing Project is a landscape-wide collaborative project that has been coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust since 2013. The purpose of the project is to source and implement funding for the clearing of alien invasive species across nine different land user groups in the Agulhas area for the restoration of fynbos. The project has had different approaches applied to execute the work. It started as a land-user incentive model mostly driven by the land owners until 2016. The primary funder is the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs (DFFE), and with fiscal changes the funding implementation changed into what is more akin to the DFFE Working for Water model from 2017.

With the new re-visioning of ABI, a process currently underway between the ABI Partners, the evaluation of the alien clearing project is necessary. It is the largest ABI project in terms of number of people involved and partners collaborating together across the landscape.

2. Purpose of the evaluation

The purpose of the evaluation is to gather the learnings from this project to modify and adapt the model in order to have greater impact in the next 10-year ABI strategy to deal with the alien invasion crisis.

3. Project Objectives

ABI’s aim is to provide a platform for organisations in the Agulhas plain to work collectively towards resolving key conservation concerns. It aims to ensure that natural resources are used sustainably, and threats are addressed holistically. Since 2003 ABI has provided the framework to enable partnerships and collective management of natural resources in the area. ABI holds that the partnership approach that is inclusive of environmental, social and economic aspects is a feasible one for the conservation landscape in the Overberg. Currently the ABI partners are engaged in a collective re-visioning process for the next 10 years.

 

The aim of the ABI alien clearing project is to apply for and co-ordinate funding to different land user groups towards alien clearing treatments to meet the objectives of ABI. In keeping with the ABI goals the assumption is that working through partnerships will secure greater funding sources and added value for the treatment of alien invasive species, and is a preferred and sustainable model to retain gains made for conservation.

4. Work Requirements

 The scope will include a full evaluation on the work completed within the Alien Clearing project between 2013-2020. Evaluation will include the review of the project impact and performance and recommendations for future such programmes are required.

The following roles must be included in the evaluation:

  1. The Department of Environmental Affairs
  2. The Flower Valley Conservation Trust
  3. The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative
  4. The nine land user groups
  5. The landowners
  6. The alien clearing teams
  7. The workers in the teams
  8. Funders of the project

Key questions that need to be answered through the evaluation are:

  1. How does the design of the project relate to other projects with similar objectives within a regional and international context?
  2. What has been the social and environmental impact of the ABI Alien Clearing Project within the Agulhas region?
  3. What are the key successes and success factors of the project?
  4. What are the shortcomings of the project?
  5. What are recommendations for a future model and institutional arrangements?
  6. Did the partnerships leverage greater impact in collaboration compared to similar initiatives?
  7. What should the role of the ABI partnership be?
  8. What are the external factors that have changed during the project that could enable new or restrict future opportunities?

5. Qualifications for the position.

Broad knowledge base and experience working with alien clearing projects, government, conservation extension, and collaborative landscape management. Must have at least 5 years’ experience with setting-up or working with models for landscape wide projects, such as Biosphere’s, communities of practice or land-user incentive projects.

The service provider must be able to speak and write fluent English, and provide for language requirements for Afrikaans and isiXhosa speakers. Must be able to engage meaningfully with different people from all cultures and backgrounds involved in the project.

Proven ability in report writing, conduct evaluations and measure the impact of projects.

Must be independent from the activities of the project so that an objective perspective can be captured.

Project needs to start on the 1st of August and be completed by the 31st of October 2021.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Natural Resource Management: Alien Clearing

When invasive alien plants are removed from our fynbos biome, our river courses, wetlands and other natural landscapes, then nature can provide her bounty uninterrupted.  

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6. Deliverables 

Documents that will be provided to the successful consultant as part of the briefing:

  1. Bids and proposals submitted on the project over time.
  2. Data on the areas cleared, investments made, contact lists for the different role players, and reports produced during the project life cycle.
  3. All planning documentation and previous reviews related to the project.

Phase 1: August 2021

Briefing of the project with project working group and consultant.

Defining the method to assess the project impact and review.

Planning of engagements and data collection.

A register of each person that was part of the evaluation.

Minutes of all meetings that took place.

Phase 2: September 2021

The drafting of the information into a report that covers the scope of work.

Review of the report with the ABI working group.

Finalization of the report.

Phase 3: October 2021

Presentation of the report to the ABI collective.

Presentation and report to be delivered along with minutes, data, and attendance registers to the Flower Valley Conservation Trust, which will inform ABI’s  new 10-year strategy.

7. Submission 

To apply please submit a short proposal (maximum 3 pages) on how you would go about the project if successful, together with your CV (including 2-3 references) and a BBBEE certificate / affidavit by 17h00 on Tuesday 13 July 2021 to faye@flowervalley.co.za

Interviews will be conducted during the course of July with the service provider appointed to start the 1 August 2021.

The appointment for the terms of reference will take into consideration broad based black economic empowerment.

Latest News

With renewed energy for our strategy framework, we have restructured ourselves to be more adaptable and efficient to deal with the post-COVID lock down climate.

Our core focus is conserving biodiversity and building resilience starting with the child, through a life cycle learning approach. The Trust’s approach is to ensure that the conservation work done helps build resilience for biodiversity. Through training and support to early childhood practitioners, children will be better prepared to effectively adapt to the climate emergency. This will contribute towards an inclusive, educated and adaptive society.

Flower Valley demonstrates its work through measurable impacts starting with the 540 hectares of pristine fynbos on Flower Valley farm.  Our aim is for the farm to become a replicable model for learning and conservation of biodiversity. This is evident from our latest news letter. 

The Flower Valley Farm is the centre for all our activities and home to everyone who loves fynbos. We hope to see you visit our hiking trails and accommodation offerings soon, and that you enjoy our latest news. 

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey
Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

The Trust

For the Trust, it has been 21 years of growth, progress and learning.

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Exploring and understanding fynbos systems through research

Over the past few month’s Flower Valley was visited by a few Universities to explore our unique fynbos systems. 

The following is interesting research done on Flower Valley Farm. 

Multispectral Imagery

Colin Geel (surveyor) and Dr. Kevin Musungu (Cape Peninsula University of Technology: CPUT) tested multispectral imagery for future spatial analysis research on Flower Valley Farm. This means that images taken from the drone are able to see a different perspective than what is possible with the human eye. Some images can enhance our understanding of alien invasive biomass, agricultural pest, water availability, soils types or different plant species. Flower Valley looks forward to seeing how this advanced technology could be applied within the conservation landscape.

Pollin Traps

Flower Valley also had a visit from postdoc Nadia du Plessis (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: NMMU), who is investigating different types of pollen from fynbos species in limestone soils. She set-up some pollen traps on Flower Valley farm. The pollen trapped will be used to compare fynbos species found currently, to species found historically in the area based on soil core samples. Soil core samples keep a pollen record over time, similar to tree rings, and the deeper the core, the further back in time it represents. Using this record researchers can compare how fynbos looked in the past, based on the present.

Lauren Searle and Matthew Farquharson, two fourth year students from the Conservation Ecology Class at Stellenbosch University, completed their field work at Flower Valley farm early this year for their end of year project.

Alien Invasives

Lauren is looking at the “Efficiency of drone-technology versus ground-based methodologies for evaluating the density and distribution of invasive alien vegetation”. This can potentially offer an alternative to the current field-based approach for measuring alien densities, and provide imagery for long term monitoring of restoration efforts in the alien clearing project.

 

Aquatic diversity

Matthew’s project is comparing the natural versus invasive riparian habitats in farm dams and how this impacts invertebrate diversity. Invertebrate diversity is closely linked to water quality. These results can inform management decisions on water quality, based on the type of vegetation surrounding farm dams. 

It will be exciting to hear more about their findings at the end of the year.