The recently formed Kaaimans-to-Touw (KTT) eco-restoration forum is striding forward. The ‘domain’ of the Forum is the rivers and watersheds that end up in the Kaaimans and Touw River mouths, and its vision is to be a ‘laboratory’ of learning about strategies that work for ecological restoration, and improving people’s lives. We acknowledge that we don’t know everything and therefore we need to learn from our collective experiences, success and errors. By promoting the success stories, we hope that ‘success will breed more success.’ The Forum also aims to promote a sense of community; a sense of meaning and place through discussing objectives that everyone can subscribe to, and then taking action and learning from each other.
Support for the Forum is growing by the day. The Department of Environmental Affairs, Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, SANParks, the Touw River Conservancy, the Constantia Kloof Conservancy, George Municipality, Natural Infrastructure Services, Eden District Municipality and Cape Nature have committed themselves to participating. Members are beginning to realize the benefits of working together. By participating, members are able to ‘pool’ their funding and resources and make a much bigger difference than if they worked alone – every small investment contributes to addressing the bigger problem within the action domain. Also, everyone can claim ownership for the successes of joint actions taken. The scientific basis for invasive weed management is being strengthened. The Forum is also becoming a platform for applying for funds to make this work. Ultimately, members are motivated by the feeling of making a difference and contributing positively.
Over the past month, significant progress has been made. Following a meeting with George Municipality officials, the mayoral committee has agreed to seriously consider allocating funds to alien plant management in the catchments of the Garden Route Dam on municipal land. Samantha Mc Culloch of the NMMU Sustainability Research Unit gave presentations to the Constantia Kloof Conservancy and Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI). The Touw River Conservancy has also received funds from Working for Water for alien plant management in three localities within the domain, and the Wilderness Bird Sanctuary reports that they are beginning to get the better of Lantana and Madeira vine within the Sanctuary. Constantia Kloof Conservancy reports that they are now in ‘maintenance mode’ after years of alien plant management. The SRU and SANParks are making progress with mapping and monitoring in the Touw River area. Christo Fabricius also facilitated a meeting in the Eastern Cape where the Umzimvubu Catchment is being positioned as a similar learning site to the Kaaimans-to-Touw Forum.
We need to keep up the momentum. The next steps are to raise awareness of alien plants amongst property consultants and nursery owners by summarizing the implications of the new National Environmental Management (Biodiversity) Act (NEMBA). A workshop, facilitated by WESSA, is aiming to further understanding of these regulations. More information on that here. An important outcome is to create a strategic adaptive management plan that will prioritize areas for the management of invasive weeds, especially (but not only) Black Wattle in the area between the Kaaimans and Touw Rivers.
A discussion was held with stakeholders living in the Kaaimans to Touw area on the 5th of May. Read more here.