Umbogintwini founder visits

2015-06-03 06:00
Photos: tania sandberg
Norman Vowels, Clifford Hole and Frank Gadd at the monthly Probus meeting.

Photos: tania sandberg Norman Vowels, Clifford Hole and Frank Gadd at the monthly Probus meeting.

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ON a recent Friday, Pieter du Plessis addressed Probus on the status of our environment and World Environmental Day, celebrated worldwide on 5 June.

Umbogintwini Nature Reserve is a result of an initiative undertaken by Du Plessis years ago.

Du Plessis arrived in Umbogintwini in 1967. “Five other employees and I were selected to work on the second largest nitrogen factory in the world at the time. Soon after production started, I noticed that the effluent and gasses had a negative effect on the neighbouring environment and suggested to the factory and company heads that a small nature reserve should be established,” Du Plessis said.

His suggestion at the time was turned down as he was told that to establish a nature reserve one would require to use hundreds and even thousands of hectares for such a reserve. Having met the famous conservationist from Britain, Gerald Durrel in Zululand, who proved to him that one can even establish a nature reserve in your own garden, Du Plessis again approached the management, leading to the establishment of the reserve.

Du Plessis left Umbogintwini in the beginning of the seventies following a few accidents and for health reasons. He eventually joined a conservation group and later became conservation officer of the then province of Natal.

His talk concentrated on water that so many of us take for granted. Gardeners and garden clubs will benefit greatly from his lecture. He advised members to invest in water tanks to capture rainwater that is by all means the safest and purest of available water.

“Using tap water is not always advisable as tap water lacks the natural nitrates that are so essential for plant growth. “Approximately 4/5ths of the atmosphere consist of nitrogen but just like water, plants and trees cannot survive on water alone or nitrogen – they need nitrates. “How is this then done in nature?” Du Plessis asked.

He said a blast of lightning will convert the nitrogen and oxygen in the air into nitrates. “This will then dissolves in the rain and fall to the ground where it will fertilise the plants, trees and soil.

Du Plessis ended his talk by encouraging members to plant trees as South Africa has lost a lot of its natural forests. - Supplied

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