Woman’s green quest earns a mayoral award

2013-11-27 00:00

WHAT started as a dream to make things safer for road users by clearing up alien vegetation, has earned an Assagay resident the respect of her peers and the community.

Now Jenny Loughlin’s dedication has also earned her the eThekwini Mayoral Award for Excellence for biodiversity.

For the past three years, Loughlin has worked tirelessly removing alien vegetation along Kassier Road and Assagay Road in Hillcrest, west of Durban.

She enlisted the help of two gardeners doing work for the Keep Hillcrest Beautiful Association, who had extensive knowledge of removing alien vegetation, and that led to what is now known as the Kassier Road Project.

Loughlin managed to restore the wetlands at the corner of Kassier and Assagay roads back to their former glory.

“It all started as an idea but grew into something stronger. In my childhood, I had a love for animals, not so much for vegetation. But I understand that animals cannot be happy in an unhealthy environment,” she said.

Seeing a number of road accidents happening in her backyard, Loughlin said she opted to take the challenge by clearing all alien plants that obstructed road signs. She asked for help from two men employed by Keep Hillcrest Beautiful Association to be part of her journey to change the situation in her neighbourhood.

The “Pay for a Day” initiative, which sees a company or individual sponsor the Keep Hillcrest Beautiful Association’s trained gardeners, has been vital in helping to maintain this project, she said. “The donations helped me to pay these two men. But what excites me is to save the lives of the people who were unable to see traffic approaching,” said Loughlin.

She now dedicates at least one day a week on the project, which started in 2010. The rest is spent on ensuring that the nearby uMhlathuzana River is cleaned up. “This award is a godsend to further our purpose,” she said of the R10 000 in prize money. “I’m excited and delighted that I won. But it’s not about me alone,” she said.

Loughlin also managed to remove alien gum trees in the area. And those trees are known for taking up 250 litres of water a day. She said it was now nice to see wild animals roaming in the area, including duikers, bush pigs, mongooses and porcupines. “This month people noticed otters along uMhlathuzana River. That’s all happened because of a clean environment.”

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