The establishment of the Hout Bay Nature Park is one step closer thanks to the efforts of 35 volunteers who participated in a clean-up held on Saturday 14 September. The clean-up began at the Manchester Road biodiversity node and ended at the Butterfly Garden at Victoria Bridge, crossing the wetland and following the Hout Bay River which falls in a section of the Hout Bay Park Run route. Members of the community, Park Run and city officials helped to pick up litter and remove invasive plant species.Executive mayor Dan Plato; Mayco member for water and waste services, Xanthea Limberg; and Rob Quintas, councillor for ward 74, were among those lending a hand. Quintas said everyone in Hout Bay and surrounds had a role to play.“Our rivers and ocean are fragile, and it is up to every member of our community to play their part in responsible waste disposal and ensuring better management of these precious natural assets.” Jackie Whales, chairperson of Friends of Rivers of Hout Bay (FORHB), organised the clean-up. FORHB, in association with the Hout Bay Rivers Catchment Forum (HBRCF), are in the process of establishing the Hout Bay Nature Park, stretching from Victoria Bridge to the sea. Whales said the clean-up was held to generate awareness of the initiative. “It can be difficult to get a new project adopted by the City as there are often multiple departments involved and budgets required. Having the mayor and Limberg supporting the project will prove enormously helpful. “In terms of water resilience, we also hope to demonstrate that a healthy, functioning river system stores and saves water for the dry years.”The nature park initiative was first presented at a public briefing at Kronendal Primary School on 20 March where it was endorsed by Quintas, key City executives and interested members of the community. Terry Murphy, chairman of HBRCF, said the City’s environmental heritage department has since tabled and approved the conceptual plan. “To enhance the Hout Bay Nature Park, plans include the building of walkways, recreation facilities and bird hides as well as a focus on invasive alien clearage,” said Murphy.The next move is to prepare biodiversity documentation. “To secure the permanent preservation of these special assets we need to submit a biodiversity agreement to Cape Nature. The City’s biodiversity management branch has agreed to advise us. A special interest group will be formed for this purpose,” said Murphy.The large area of public open space earmarked for the nature park mostly consists of wetlands and the river. Whales said it was important to preserve and rehabilitate this area for climate change resilience, ecological function and biodiversity. “Also we need natural areas within our urban space where people can go to connect with nature. I feel strongly that if children don’t get an opportunity to connect with nature, it is very hard for them to do so as adults,” she said.Whales said the community needed to get involved and take ownership of projects like these. “It is also much easier for the City to support projects that have the enthusiastic backing of the community,” she said. V For more information, contact 072 808 1530 or email@example.com.