The Flower Valley team has found two new alien plant species to the Overberg, while working along the banks of the Klipdrift River in Napier.
And one species in particular is causing concern for conservationists here, due to its ability to invade fynbos and forests.
The Flower Valley Natural Resource Management team is currently assessing and mapping the extent of invasive alien plants along the banks of the Klipdrift River in Napier. The Trust was tasked to undertake the assessment and mapping by the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency, lead agent for water management in the Overberg.
The plan is to ultimately compile a strategy to clear the invasive alien plants from the Klipdrift riparian zone, once the extent and costs are understood.
To date, our Alien Clearing Project Manager, Stanley Engel, and Extension Officer, Mitch Afrika have worked with wonderful Napier landowners to gather the information.
But it was during this process that Stanley and Mitch came across two NEW alien plants.
1. Acacia elata (Pepper tree wattle), is native to Australia and grows to 12 – 18m tall. It occurs in South Africa, but we don’t know of other records of it as an invasive in the Overberg as yet.
It’s a concern because it’s a fast-growing, long-lived species known to invadefynbosand forest clearings. It’s spread by ants, birds, wind and water, and can also travel in garden waste and contaminated soil transportation.
This is also an Australian native medium-sized tree which grows to about 30m tall. This species is not naturalised in South Africa (and is not yet listed under NEMBA as an invasive species), but is part of the Myrtle family.
The Klipdrift River feeds into the Kars River, which ultimately feeds the Heuningnes River. This leads to the Heuningnes estuary on the De Mond Nature Reserve, which is a Ramsar wetland site (signifying wetlands of international importance). The river is also the source of Napier’s leiwater.
But the Klipdrift River is heavily infested by invasive plants. It’s hoped this process will help raise awareness around the importance of this river.
When we saw that an intact pristine fynbos farm was threatened by potential agricultural expansion 21 years ago – you, our donors, stepped in to help. This purchase with the help of Fauna and Flora International, saw the birth of Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
At the height of the lockdown during the past four months, Flower Valley Conservation Trust had to react swiftly. At the time, the spotlight fell almost exclusively on the latter half of our vision: for life and livelihoods (our vision is: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods).
The Flower Valley team has found two new alien plant species to the Overberg, while working along the banks of the Klipdrift River in Napier. And one species in particular is causing concern for conservationists here, due to its
Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) is a registered Public Benefit Organisation, based in the Overberg. The Trust acts as an Implementing Agent for an Invasive Alien Clearing Programme in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The Trust is advertising a short-term contract (for a period of 4 months on the provision to extend the contract for 1 year) in the Alien Clearing Project:
Field Control Officer
Main Job functions
To support the coordination of alien clearing operations in-field;
To monitor clearing performances and quality against the Working for Water policy requirements;
To assess, guide and monitor compliances to health & safety standards;
To coordinate and manage all health and safety meetings amongst alien invasive contracting teams;
To coordinate the collection of in-field clearing data and provide regular reports on the clearing progress against the annual operational clearing plan;
To support the management and coordination of all invasive alien clearing monitoring requirements;
To create GIS maps of all invasive alien treatment areas against prescribed mapping guidelines on which annual clearing plans and budgets are based;
To ground truth and provide in-field guidance to landowners and contracting teams to identify the boundaries of clearing treatment areas;
To provide extension support to landowners and contracting teams on prescribed invasive alien treatment methods.
Minimum qualifications & experience:
3-year working conservation or similar experience;
Experience in the use and management of GIS software;
Experience in mapping and field work;
Data collection and management experience;
Arranging and coordinating stakeholder meetings and taking minutes;
Experience in invasive alien plant control treatments;
Good communication and facilitation skills;
Proficient in English & Afrikaans. IsiXhosa would be an advantage;
Computer literacy and a valid driver’s license;
Off-roading (4×4) experience advantageous;
Knowledge of fynbos/invasive plants and ecology advantageous;
Based in Gansbaai, Stanford, Bredasdorp and surrounds.
A salary will be negotiated, dependent on qualifications and experience, for the position.
Deadline: Wednesday 6 December 2017
Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 028 425 2855. For more information, contact 028 425 2218 during office hours.
Invasive alien clearing, under the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) banner, has started up again across the Agulhas Plain. The alien clearing project is coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust (the Coordination Unit and Secretariat of ABI), with funds for the clearing operations sourced from the Department of Environmental Affairs.
That means that around 160 project participants are back in the natural landscapes across the Plain. They’ll be clearing around 15,000 hectares over the next four months.
The project is once again operating according to an innovative model: the Flower Valley team works with nine conservancies and land user groups, who in turn work with their landowner members.
Through this model, Flower Valley Conservation Trust (a Public Benefit Organisation) serves as the implementing agent, the key contact with the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The conservancies play a major role in rolling out and implementing the project, and provide extensive co-funding to the clearing operations.
The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative is a landscape initiative, structured as a voluntary association that serves the Overberg area. ABI has four themes according to which it works, the first being integrated land-use planning, including the clearing of invasive species.
Alien invasives are one of the biggest threats to the Overberg’s natural landscapes – especially the area’s threatened fynbos vegetation.
From 2013, the ABI Alien Clearing Project has cleared approximately 30,000 hectares per year up to 2016. Since then, the Flower Valley team has been in constant communications with the Department of Environmental Affairs, to ensure the gains made in the past are not lost.
The partners are working together to develop systems to detect and identify invasive alien plants in the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Programme-area in the Overberg. Flower Valley Conservation Trust coordinates ABI.
Through support from the Table Mountain Fund (an associated Trust of WWF-South Africa), the partners are also finding ways to monitor invasive alien specie populations, the areas in which they grow, and how the population densities change over time, while capturing invasive alien clearing data in a way that is not administratively burdensome for land users.
A researcher is now being sought to evaluate existing monitoring and evaluation tools used by Working for Water, and other organisations. From here, cost effective and scientifically robust methodologies will be developed that land users can make use of.
Through the position, landowners and other stakeholders will also receive training support on how to control invasive alien species on private land.
Working for Water programmes are generally known to in some instances include costly record-keeping tools that have heavy administrative requirements. Many of these tools cannot be optimally used by private landowners. It’s hoped through this project to develop user-friendly ways for landowners to capture and record their information.
A new invasive plant species has been identified on the Agulhas Plain. The Evergreen Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus) has been located on two properties in the area. Although the species has not yet been listed as an invasive plant under the National Environment Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), it is considered a threat to the Western Cape.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is now working with Flower Valley Conservation Trust to control and look to eradicate this species on the properties. These two partners will now work closely in piloting efficient treatment and control measures, which will include data collection on treatments, population size and the rate of spread. Flower Valley coordinates the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Programme.
The Kangaroo Paw stems from Southwest Australia, although it is commercially grown in other countries throughout the world, including the USA and Japan. It is used as an ornamental flower, with some of its artificial hybrids used for the cut-flower market.
Due to its adaptability to different soil types, and ability to cope with water stress, it is considered a threat. The species is also immune to most fungal attacks. It’s believed that the species can be eradicated from the Agulhas Plain, given that it is believed to not have spread beyond the two properties as yet.
A new guide to empower fynbos harvesters to know the species they are picking for the market is currently being published. The Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting specifically focuses on species found and picked on the Agulhas Plain – a biodiversity hotspot, which includes vast fynbos areas recently included as a Unesco World Heritage site.
The guide has been compiled by Flower Valley Conservation Trust and the Universities of Newcastle and Durham in the United Kingdom. It lists 41 of the most commonly-picked species on the Plain, and lists their characteristics, geographical range, and conservation status. The guide is also being translated into Afrikaans and Xhosa.
According to Dr Dave Bek, Research Associate at Newcastle University, and co-author of the guide, it’s vital that harvesters are empowered to know the veld they own or work in.
“While fynbos field guides are readily available, they usually don’t focus on those species we’re actively picking for the market. They are also not generally aimed at actual harvesters and landowners – probably the most important custodians of our fynbos heritage.”
The guide also includes information on some of the threats to fynbos, including invasive alien plants and the loss of natural habitat, and provides support for sustainable harvesting practices.
Roger Bailey, Conservation Director at Flower Valley Conservation Trust said, “We see this guide as a tool to encourage and facilitate good harvesting practices, as set out in the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. There are many things we can do when picking fynbos. Many of these are small things, but they can make a big difference in protecting fynbos while providing sustainable livelihoods.”
The 41 species included in the guide are colour-coded according to their conservation status, as per the Red Data List. They also include details on their Vulnerability Index scores, an index developed under the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. The Vulnerability Index provides a guideline as to the impact, or lack thereof, of harvesting on fynbos populations over the long-term.
Dr Bek says, “We’re excited about the Field Guide. Of course we want to be sure that harvesters operating on the Agulhas Plain can benefit from this. But the guide will be just as relevant to secondary and tertiary institutions looking to provide information on fynbos harvesting and fynbos species found on the Plain and beyond. Its translation into all three languages of the Western Cape – Afrikaans, isi-Xhosa and English – will also ensure its use by a diverse range of harvesters and institutions.”
The Agulhas Plain, where the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Project is taking place, has been selected as the pilot study site to investigate the use of invasive alien plant biomass for energy.
The ABI Alien Clearing Project is coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust. Through the project, around 30,000 hectares of land are being cleared of invasive alien plants every year. The project is also creating around 160 jobs for project participants. The majority of the funding was secured from the Department of Environmental Affairs, through its Land User Incentive Scheme. However, landowners and other stakeholders involved in the project are providing co-funding.
The project, currently in its third year, has resulted in a considerable amount of alien plant biomass being left in the veld. Experts believe this biomass could be used and converted to various energy products.
In order to assess this opportunity, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in a study funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs, will now investigate how much invasive alien plant biomass is available in the area. The ABI Alien Clearing Project is operating on private land across the Agulhas Plain, the region between Hermanus and De Hoop.
According to Dr William Stafford of the CSIR at the ABI Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday, 24 June, the CSIR study will also investigate the feasibility of biomass to energy projects, looking at the opportunities for local or regional energy use, versus supplying the national grid. Additional products from biomass, including heat, charcoal and biochar, will be considered.
Dr Stafford said, “There are 160 million dry tons of invasive plants standing on the landscape in South Africa. And these invasives are spreading at 10 percent per year. That’s a ten-fold increase if we do nothing.” He said that Working for Water programmes had managed to reduce that spread by one percent. “But we want zero percent growth – that’s the ideal situation.” The study will be completed by end-March 2016.
ABI, a landscape initiative working across the Overberg region, has been operating since 2003. The ABI Partnership works together to secure a productive and healthy natural environment in the area, and includes landowners, government department officials, officials from CapeNature and SANParks, and NGOs. ABI is chaired by Agri Wes-Cape President, Cornie Swart.
Time is running out to Adopt a Fynbos Hectare on Flower Valley Farm. The campaign – aimed at securing the resources to protect and conserve Flower Valley Farm for 2015 – ends on 7 December 2014.
Flower Valley Farm is the home of Flower Valley Conservation Trust, based outside Gansbaai in the Western Cape. The farm offers pristine fynbos-covered mountains and valleys, as well as a Stinkwood Forest. The farm is one of the few remaining properties that is still completely covered in fynbos and forests – despite the growing pressure on farming enterprises to diversify into other farming activities to boost profitability.
Flower Valley Farm was bought in 1999 by Fauna and Flora International, after they were approached by a concerned individual followingthreats that the farm could be converted to viticulture. The Trust was set up then, initially to protect the many rare and endangered fynbos species found on the property. The Trust’s mandate grew over the years, and today Flower Valley promotes the sustainable harvesting of fynbos across the broader Cape Floral Kingdom. However, the farm remains the showcase for good land management and fynbos care.
In order to continue to protect the many rare fynbos species found here – including the Aloe juddii (a specie found nowhere else in the world), and the many animals and birds dependent on fynbos (including our resident Flower Valley Cape Leopard), the Trust is now raising R200,000 to protect the farm in 2015. The Trust is offering those who have adopted, the opportunity to visit their hectare, and have their name immortalised on Flower Valley Farm.
To the many Flower Valley Friends and Partners who have adopted one hectare or more – from the entire Flower Valley team, our thanks to you! We look forward to hosting you on Flower Valley Farm when you have the opportunity to visit us.
The Western Cape natural capital costs society around R4.5-billion a year. Most of the costs are due to the impact of invasive alien species on water resources, and the impact of the fisheries industry. (more…)
New support for the Sustainable Harvesting Programme has been secured – through new capacity that has been brought in. Two new positions: a Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator and an Ethical Trade Coordinator have been appointed to assist the rollout of the Programme.