Fame for Green Bobbies

What an exciting week for our new team of Green Bobbies in Winterskloof!

They started working in Budleigh Road, near the intersection with Devonshire Lane. They have identified and treated masses of invasive ginger, morning glory creeper, bugweed, cestrum (orange and red flowers), gum and wattle trees along this section of road, as well as pulling out a few pom-pom weed plants. Please have a look at what they have done in Budleigh Road and Willow Lane if you have some time – they love to chat about their work.

The Green Bobbies were filmed and interviewed for a TV documentary on Monday 16th April while working in Budleigh Road. It is amazing to see how much work they have done in three days, since starting their work there. The photo shows the cameramen filming our Green Bobbies (Siphiwe, Tom and Sihle) as they were packing up for the day. The signs are used to raise awareness and to ensure drivers slow down to safely pass their work place.

The film crew were accompanying the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) on their Drylands Fund tour of environmental projects to showcase best practice and were blown away by how much our small team has done in the short space of time they have been working. The Drylands Fund is a collaborative partnership of governmental departments, business and civil society organisations working to build the Green Economy. Their project in KZN they are funding is the Deaf Action programme to include deaf people in the Green Economy. We welcomed the opportunity to include deaf youngsters from Sweetwaters in our team if this were possible. If successful, our Green Bobbies would be trained in sign language to ensure they can effectively communicate with the new members, something they are keen to do. The Drylands Fund cannot give us money for our Green Bobbies this year, as they already have the Deaf Economy project in KZN, but were very enthusiastic about what we (and the Midlands Conservancies’ Forum) are doing. The exposure to influential funders will continue to get our project coverage and hopefully we can find a way to fund the expanded team, so we can do so much more. We were very appreciative of a sizeable donation from June Stander of Crompton Road to help with our efforts. The team from BP Quarry are providing us with a monthly ration of 40 litres of diesel, free of charge, for which we are also very grateful.

March Report on Green Bobbies Activities:

We have employed three young people from Sweetwaters from the beginning of March: •Siphiwe Mofokeng (Supervisor), Tom Mncwabe, Sihle Mthembu

Their training has included:

• Red Alert, our Red Bobbies Security service provider, taught them how to observe and report suspicious people and activities, which will help them to support the Red Bobbies who patrol to prevent crime in Winterskloof. • Everton Conservancy released their Trainer, Sipho Mhlalanyawo, who has come up to Winterskloof weekly to show them how to identify and eradicate invasive alien plants, how to work and handle herbicides safely

• Sipho has also explained the reason for record keeping and we are working to refine this process to log the numbers and types of invasive plants they have treated, along with the amount of herbicides and other chemicals used

• They are being trained in stock control, which will enable them to keep track of equipment obtained, issued and returned each day, as well as the amount of chemicals consumed to ensure sufficient stocks are maintained and replenished in time

• Obtaining tax numbers from SARS to enable them to register with Wildlands Conservation Trust’s Integrated Greening Programme – they will be employed in this initiative from April 2012

• Opening bank accounts and understanding banking processes, costs and other related issues

The team started their work in Willow Lane, which was chosen as it was requested by the residents. Their participation is essential and they provided a secure store for our equipment. They were also able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency, which was not required, thankfully. The team worked two days per week, which was enough to enable us to learn what was required in terms of supervision, administration, supplies and other requirements. The work began at the uMngeni Municipality’s Environmental Health Offices and it took most of the month just to treat the infestation of alien invasive plants on the grounds, the tennis court and the old equine arena. The next table lists the species and numbers of invasive alien plants which were treated by the team in their first month. The work started at the land on the corner of Valley Road and Willow Lane, which was donated to the community many decades ago. It was used by the residents for sporting activities – a tennis court was built and the grassland used for equine activities. A trust was formed to administer the process and then the land was donated to the Winterskloof Health Committee for “municipal” functions and offices were built to house the personnel involved. When the Committee was absorbed into the uMngeni Municipality, the offices were used for the Environmental Health officials. These people have now been transferred to the District Municipality and will be renting the premises from uMngeni Municipality.

Alien Invasive Plants Treated in March 2012 – Willow Lane

Small=no flowers/seeds; med=flowers; big=seeds

Small

Med

Big

Totals

Terrestrial Herbs

Ageratum

2

2

Crofton Weed

0

Formosa Lily

0

Ginger Lilly

74

38

112

Pom Pom Weed

5

5

Trees & Shrubs

American Bramble

70

70

Bugweed

275

56

36

367

Camphor Tree

300

161

41

502

Canna (Indian Shot)

8

8

Castor Oil

8

31

8

47

Cestrum

243

52

43

338

Cherry Guava

8

8

Cotoneaster

0

Elephant Ear

0

Guava

35

23

58

Indian Laurel

26

3

1

30

Ink Berry

40

34

74

Lantana

304

376

680

Loquat Tree

19

19

Montanoa

0

Mullberry

122

20

5

147

Parthenium

0

Pearl Acacia Tree

153

11

164

Poinsettia

 

Privet

18

1

19

Rhus Tree

235

150

35

420

Senna (peanut butter Cassia)

9

1

10

Syringa Tree

0

Yellow Bells (Tecoma)

0

Woolly Plectranthus

12

70

82

Creepers

Balloon Vine

0

Cat’s Claw Creeper

0

Granadilla

3

1

4

Madeira Vine

0

Mauritius Thorn

0

Morning Glory

65

4

3

72

Pereskia

0

Plantation Escapes

Gum Tree

0

Pine Tree

3

7

6

16

Black Wattle Tree

36

36

Total number of plants treated – more than 3 290 (Ageratum recorded as number of bags, dense stands of ginger and morning glory recorded in terms of area treated, as plants too numerous to count). For photos and details of the invasive alien plants, please refer to the WESSA book. We have noticed Pom Pom weed (photo) in many areas now – this is an emerging invasive plant and needs to be eradicated quickly to prevent spreading throughout the province.

Fonda Lewis, a Winterskloofer, works for the Institute of Natural Resources and has offered to assist with determining the value of the invasive alien eradication work in terms of benefits to ecosystems services. This may be the impact from: • Clearing wetlands and streams to release water for downstream users and recharge of groundwater • Reducing seed loads • Improving ecosystem health (wetlands, streams, forests, grasslands) • Adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of Climate Change • Reducing the fire risk by reducing the fuel load of invasives, which burn hotter and longer than indigenous vegetation • Revitalising ecosystems (forests, grasslands) which filter our air of pollutants providing clean air to breathe and circulate

Next Steps: Sipho, the Trainer, is convinced the Green Bobbies will be able to work independently from the end of April 2012. The next steps in the process are: • From the beginning of April the Green Bobbies will work an extra day, three days per week (Monday to Wednesday) • The Team will work un-mentored by Sipho the Trainer, for the first time • They will complete the work in Willow Lane and begin in Budleigh Road (from Devonshire Lane intersection, where the road has narrowed due to invasive alien plant encroachment) • The Green Bobbies will get training from the eZemvelo KZN Wildlife District Conservation Officer (based at Doreen Clark) on how to identify and remove snares, report illegal activities such as hunting (people & dogs), unsustainable harvesting, dumping, littering, etc • The team will get advice on Health and Wellness – how to live healthily and maintain a healthy lifestyle • From the end of June 2012, we will be able to provide a trained team to contract to landowners to identify and eradicate invasive alien plants on private land to further reduce the seed load during their “free” days (Thursday and Friday) • We intend to recruit six new Green Bobbies to start new teams for training, however the Wildlands budget has not been increased as promised, so we will have to find funding for this expansion of the programme. The areas treated will have to be revisited annually for at least three to five years to ensure the invasive plants are effectively controlled. Each year, the work will be easier and quicker. For the work to be successful, we also need all residents and landowners to do their bit – identify and treat the invasive alien plants on their properties. This will help to further reduce the seed load and make it progressively easier to make our Valley Invasive Alien Plant FREE.

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