Unbe‘leaf’able strides

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The dedicated staff at Project Noordhoeked clear alien vegetation in the Peninsula to protect the unique Cape biodiversity.PHOTO: Project Noordhoeked
The dedicated staff at Project Noordhoeked clear alien vegetation in the Peninsula to protect the unique Cape biodiversity.PHOTO: Project Noordhoeked

Project Noordhoeked, focused on promoting the conservation of wildlife, plants and delicate ecosystems, has had a major impact on the community.

Now, with all hands on deck, the group’s members are continuing their pursuit to clear out alien vegetation in several parts of the Peninsula and to protect Cape Town’s plant diversity.

Project Noordhoeked is the driving force behind initiatives such as the eco-brick benches created in memory of Wesley Sweetnam (“Eco-brick bench built in memory of trail runner”, People’s Post, 10 March 2020) and Pete de Bruin; the litter-eating wire whale bin called Kakapo which was installed at Noordhoek beach late in 2019; and the dog poo composting project.

“The dog poo project has been a great success thus far. Over 1 500kg of dog faeces has been removed from the beach and common (without using plastic) and it is being turned into valuable compost,” says the project’s co-manager Karoline Hanks.

“The project also has extensive composting units to process the fruit and veg pulp generated by the juice bar, Faith Juice, at the Farm Village. Probably around 200kg or more per week is processed and diverted from landfill.”

Additionally, the installation of Kakapo has resulted in heaps of waste being removed from the beach.

“Beach walkers are encouraged to ‘make their walk count’; use one of the reusable bags in a box nearby to collect ocean-borne plastic and place it inside the whale. Since its installation, we have removed about 60 bags of plastic and other beach litter from the whale. It is an important awareness tool and it generates much interest from passing walkers, tourists and others.”

The group’s work continued this year in the wetlands where they were given the go ahead by the City of Cape Town to clear out the harmful Port Jackson plant species on City land.

Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, says the recreation and parks department encourages communities to take initiative and care for the green spaces in their neighbourhoods.

“We support the efforts of Project Noordhoeked in taking action to remove invasive alien species on the portion of City land which borders the sports field in that area. In addition, the department is providing them with materials, guidance and support throughout the process,” he says.

Hanks explains: “We recently cleared a large section of the mountain behind San Michel and this year we have moved into the wetland to focus on the Port Jackson there. Port Jackson (Acacia saligna) is an invasive plant and it impacts on biodiversity in the area.”

The key objectives of the project, Hanks says, are to create jobs, to keep the beach, common and main roadsides clean and the clearing of invasive alien plants which came about more recently.

This initiative, and all of the others lead by Project Noordhoeked, rely solely on donations by the community “to pay the team’s wages for a three-day week”, says Hanks.

“The project employs three young men from Masiphumelele – Edgar, Paul and William – for three days a week, and another man, David, for two days a week, for alien clearing.”

While highly appreciative of their approximately 30 sponsors and the contributions of the Noordhoek Residents and Ratepayers’ Association, Hanks says: “We are proactive with our fundraising efforts and I try raise the project’s profile continuously via social media to encourage community members to donate regularly.”

These funds help to make community projects possible and even facilitate additional activities such as the three big clean-up campaigns that were held on Ou Kaapse Weg.

With still much to do to keep Noordhoek and surrounds beautiful, and to keep the local biodiversity thriving, the work of Project Noordhoeked will continue into the foreseeable future.

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