Conservation a priority for Fosna

2018-06-26 06:01
Flower specimens at the Info Centre at Gate 1.

Flower specimens at the Info Centre at Gate 1.

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The Friends of Silvermine Nature Area (Fosna) has the conservation of the fauna and flora of the Southern Peninsula at heart and focuses on conserving it for the next generation­.

Fosna was founded 20 years ago under the auspices of Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa).

“Friends’ scheme the purpose of Fosna is to encourage local communities all over South Africa to become involved with the conservation of local natural environments which are vulnerable to urban changes and to promote their future well-being. Each group is bound by a constitution and submits annual reports to Wessa. Currently we have 47 members,” says Yvonne Viljoen, spokesperson for Fosna.

Fosna’s inaugural meeting was on 6 August 1992 with Emeritus Prof. Deon Kesting as first chairman, Simon Brownlie as treasurer and Rebecca Brownlie as secretary. By 1994 Sandy Barnes, Pandora Reinecke, Jay Cowen and Sibyl Morris were also on the committee. Later chairpersons were Sandy Barnes, Yvonne Viljoen, Heron Burger and Sue Frew. Currently, Shelley Tuck is in her second term of office.

“In 1992, Silvermine was one of Cape Town’s many nature areas managed by [the local municipality] under Mark Hawthorne. The manager of Silvermine was Dean Ferreira. Subsequently, the reserves on the Table Mountain chain were gradually incorporated into the Cape Peninsula National Park which in turn became the Table Mountain National Park (SANParks). Silvermine falls within the Central Section. We work closely with the SANParks rangers on a number of initiatives” says Viljoen.

“For the first 10 years our most important activity was the hacking of invasive exotic vegetation, particularly pine trees. Jay Cowen and Sandy Barnes spearheaded this activity. Expensive tools and safety equipment were required and needed to be maintained and these were financed by the annual sale of Christmas trees in Sun Valley.

Additionally, small groups of members ‘adopted a plot’ to keep clear of invasive vegetation after an initial major clearance by Silvermine staff. Hacking still led by Jay Cowen, continues today on a monthly basis,” she says.

In addition to hacking, Fosna has a 12 member sub-group, Flora Documentation Programme (FDP), who have a SANParks research permit to photograph wildflowers to create a record of currently existing flora on the Peninsula.

“At the moment, the FDP database lists 2360 species on the Cape Peninsula and we have photographed 1689 of these. Out of this record, Fosna has produced a DVD with colour images of all the species photographed to date as well as the historical descriptions of all the species. Additionally, two booklets have been published: Botanical Names, what they mean is still available but the illustrated Wild Flowers of Silvermine is out of print,” she says.

Revenue generated from sales contributes to their hacking activities and to projects identified in collaboration with Silvermine Section staff, as necessary or desirable.

“Fosna is grateful to generous donors who have entrusted funds to us for use in Silvermine at our discretion. These projects include, funding water tanks, path and boardwalks maintenance, and hands-on activities such as such as (after the fires of February 2015) helping to dismantle the burnt remains of boardwalks and removing planks, nails and wiring in preparation for restoration.”

Fosna has also assisted the Riverine Rovers group in Fish Hoek which maintains the paths and controls vegetation in the Clovelly wetlands. This is where the Silvermine River, which originates in the area of the Reservoir, reaches Fish Hoek beach.

“It is also Fosna’s mission to promote public enjoyment and knowledge of Silvermine. Weekly guided walks are advertised and brochures are available in local libraries. Information posters prepared by Fosna members are displayed at the Reservoir parking area and at Gate 1 at the top of Ou Kaapseweg where flower specimens, refreshed every week, can also be seen. Youth and other interested groups are welcome to contact Fosna for guided educational walks in the field.

V Publications can be purchased from Yvonne Viljoen on 021 788 5620 or email yv3@mweb.co.za.The DVD costs R140 and Botanical Names, What they Mean at R70. Contact Shelley Tuck on 021 783 0437 or safaris01­@iafrica.com for more information.

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