The hills are greening up, but don’t be fooled.

Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

The hills are greening up, but don’t be fooled.

Don’t get too excited about all the greenery that is appearing on hillsides and valleys …. millions and millions of black wattle have sprung up after the rains. Now is the time to take action, see article published by Cape Nature below. Thanks to Linda Hegerty for sending me the pictures. They were taken in the valley near the Salt River. Best Practice Guide to alien vegetation management Preamble Invasive alien vegetation must be removed from environmentally sensitive areas with the least amount of damage to indigenous vegetation, to ensure compliance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA) regulations. Before any clearing of alien vegetation is initiated, it must be understood that when the programme starts, it must be implemented until completion. There is no value in ad hoc clearing, with no follow-up programme. Management actions: Map the extent of invasion as well as density and height of alien species Determine costs and priorities and produce a plan of operations detailing Initial control (drastic reduction of the existing population), Follow-up control (control of seedlings and coppice re-growth) and Maintenance (on-going, low-level control) and include targets and timeframes. Prioritise the clearing of the most lightly infested areas first Prioritise the clearing of highly invasive species which may not have become well established to date Prioritise clearing before the burning of a block Prioritise clearing within the first season after a burn Prioritise follow up clearing To restore/rehabilitate areas cleared of alien vegetation Keep record of clearing operations and stands Where should you start? By removing invasive alien plants from your property, you will help reduce their spread. If your property is very large, and there are many invasive plants present, consider the following as high-priority areas, which should be controlled first: The area immediately around buildings, if there is a risk of fire. Low-density infestations, to curb the spread of invasive plants into surrounding areas. The tops of slopes, watercourses, and steep, long bare slopes, to inhibit the spread of seeds downhill or downstream, where they will infest new areas. Sites where initial control work has been completed and regrowth is present, to prevent densification and further infestation.  Disturbed sites, to prevent new infestations from mass germination of alien seedsin the soil. Seedlings should be controlled when shorter than 0,5 m to avoid costly control work at a later stage. Control methods The following section contains generic guidelines/principles for the removal of alien plants. Specific removal methods for each plant are provided further below. Invasive alien plant control relies on four main methods – manual, mechanical, chemical and biological control. Long-term success of any programme is best achieved through a combination of these. This is called an integrated control approach.  When using herbicide Read the labels for specific instructions. Do spray when plants are actively growing, ensure that herbicide is mixed according to label application rates, ensure correct wearing of safety gear at all times, plan the application of herbicides before the operation commences, spray when the sun is shining, use a drip sheet and keep herbicide in a demarcated area in the veld out of direct sunlight, apply spray to the canopy and stems, include dye to assist in the identification of areas that have been cleared, include a wetting agent should be added to the herbicide mix to allow for better absorption. Do...

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FIRST ENVIRO DISASTER GRANT CRUCIAL

Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

FIRST ENVIRO DISASTER GRANT CRUCIAL

The symposium featured an array of speakers who spoke on the Knysna fire from different professional and scientific perspectives. GARDEN ROUTE NEWS – The environmental management work group of Garden Route Rebuild is waiting with bated breath to hear if the R37-million they need for emergency environmental rehabilitation in the area will be approved. According to environmental consultant Paul Bucholz, who works with the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA), this is the first time that an application for environmental emergency disaster funding has been made in South Africa. This application follows the fires that swept through the area in June. Bucholz was speaking at a symposium titled “Knysna Fire – the Causes, the Fire, the Aftermath and the Future” presented by the Veldfire Management Programme at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), George Campus on 21 September. NMU is the only tertiary institution in the country that offers a Veldfire Management Programme. Bucholz said it is imperative that the environmental funding is secured. “It is needed for alien eradication, fuel load reduction, to fight erosion and to rehabilitate the burn scar.” Tiaan Pool, programme coordinator: Veldfire Management and Forestry at Nelson Mandela University George Campus, facilitated the symposium and directed the programme. The application is currently on the desk of the Deputy Director General of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, and a decision is expected soon. The impact of the fires were filmed using drones and Bucholz showed where high altitude teams have placed very expensive anti erosion fibre sausages and blankets under very dangerous conditions on slopes that had burnt completely bare. Alien control crucial Manager of Planning at Sanparks and chairman of SCFPA, Len du Plessis, called the fires, the evacuation, the use of social media and the subsequent rebuild and rehabilitation efforts “unprecedented”. Du Plessis provided details of the environmental impact of the fire and implored government to make the emergency funding available as soon as possible. “I cannot stress the importance of alien control enough. The regrowth will be massive. It is our biggest challenge and poses the biggest fire risk. It will also destroy our sense of place.” He said the damage to the soil and landscape had been devastating and that damage to infrastructure caused sewage to run into the Knysna estuary. Du Plessis expressed the hope that the habitat of the endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly, which is found only in this area, has not been eradicated altogether. MTO planning officer Willie Brink said the impact of the fire on commercial plantations and the resultant loss of logs will be felt up to 2040. Malcolm Procter of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) in the Free State revealed that the annual length of the fire season has increased by six weeks over the last two decades. He showcased a model used in the Free State where large areas are demarcated into smaller, manageable, fire risk zones. He urged town planners and land owners to act responsibly. Residential areas should not be developed in high risk zones and landlords should control the fuel load and erect fire resistant structures. Other speakers included Prof Quinton Johnson; Knysna Mayor Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who delivered her address via Skype; Dechlan Pillay of the National Disaster Management Centre and Dirk Smit of SCFPA. Industry...

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Setting the facts straight on arum lilies and frogs

Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

Setting the facts straight on arum lilies and frogs

I was requested to set the facts straight regarding arum lilies and frogs.  Three years ago I posted an article that was forwarded to me by a concerned resident of Knysna. As we also have vendors selling Arum lilies on the N2 we thought it relevant to publish the article. A recent joint press release issued by the City of Cape Town, CapeNature and SANBI (August 2010)There has been inaccurate information circulating about the sale of arum lilies, and the protection of two of the Cape’s amphibians, the arum lily frog and micro frog. A campaign urging residents not to purchase arum lilies from vendors at the side of the road seems to be gaining momentum whilst spreading inaccurate information about arum lilies and frogs. This misleading information has also gone viral, and is being spread via e-mail and social networking tools. It is important that the public understand the facts about these frogs, before making a decision on whether or not to purchase the flowers. Correct information about arum lily frog The Environmental Management (ERM) Department, in conjunction with CapeNature and the South African National Biodiversity Institute would therefore like to highlight the facts. The information being circulated refers to the ‘arum lily micro frog’ which does not exist. There are, however, two different species of frog, namely the micro frog (Microbatrachella capensis) and the arum lily frog (Hyperolius horstockii). The micro frog is smaller than a fingernail, while the arum lily frog is somewhat larger, growing to about 40 mm in length. It has been reported that the ‘arum lily micro frog’ is in danger because of the sale of arum lilies, but this is not at all correct for either of the frog species. The supposed threat to these frogs’ habitat has been cited as one of the main reasons why the public should not buy arum lilies. However, no frog species breeds in the flowers of arum lilies. While the arum lily frog occasionally uses the flowers for shelter, it is not dependant on them. Arum lily frogs breed in wetlands and not in the flowers of the arums. The micro frog is ground-dwelling, breeding in temporary pools, and it does not climb into any flowers. Arum lily frogs are very pale and they hide their bright orange feet and legs under their bodies during the day. In this way, the frog is able to use a white background as camouflage against predators and this background is sometimes the white arum flower. They do not use the pollen of the flowers to camouflage themselves, as has been suggested. While arum lily frogs are only found in the Western Cape (and a small area of the Eastern Cape), they are not classified as threatened in the 2004 Red Data book. However, it is true that the species is becoming increasingly rare as their habitat is lost to urban development. Only buy from traders in demarcated areas – not roving hawkers While the illegal harvesting of arum lilies will not lead to the extinction of arum lily frogs, the sale of illegally harvested flora at traffic lights is cause for concern. If left unchecked, other illegally harvested plants such as proteas, ericas, and various bulb species may be seen at traffic lights in the future. The City...

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Where have all the insects gone?

Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

Where have all the insects gone?

By Sophie Inge For Mailonline PUBLISHED: 09:15 BST, 27 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:41 BST, 27 August 2017 Have you noticed you’re scrubbing fewer squashed flies off your windscreen of late? You’re not alone. Drivers across the UK have been reporting an absence of flies, gnats, wasps and moths on their vehicles – prompting fears from scientists that such insects could be in decline. And this is no new phenomenon, with experts noting a decline in insect numbers over the past few decades. Drivers across the UK have been reporting less flies, gnats, wasps and moths than usual on their vehicles – prompting fears from scientists that such insects could be in decline ‘Where have all the insects gone?’ wondered Michael Groom of Teffont Evias in Wiltshire in a letter to the Telegraph newspaper. ‘My windscreen remains clear whatever the speed.’ According to data collected by the Krefeld Entomological Society, a German amateur group of entomologists that monitored more than 100 nature reserves in western Europe since the Eighties, insect levels have fallen sharply in recent years. In 2013, the group returned to one of its trapping sites from 1989 and found the number of insects had dropped by nearly 80 per cent, Science Mag reported. Analysis of further samples confirmed the phenomenon. So why should we be worried? According to data collected by the Krefeld Entomological Society, a German amateur group of entomologists that monitored more than 100 nature reserves in western Europe since the Eighties, insect levels have fallen sharply in recent years HOW THE BEES ARE AFFECTED BY PESTICIDES Queen bees emerge from hibernation in spring to fly off to continue the bees’ life cycle in a new colony. An agricultural dose of thiamethoxam reduces their ability to do this, and boosts the risk of population collapse. When a queen is going to set up a colony, she will secrete wax and form it into containers for nectar and pollen. She will then begin to lay her eggs and sit on them like a bird – these spring queens represent the next generation of bumblebee colonies. But exactly how thiamethoxam blocks the queens’ reproductive cycle is not yet known. According to Dave Goulson, an ecologist at the University of Sussex who is working with Krefeld Entomological Society, other species are at risk, too. ‘If you’re an insect-eating bird living in that area, four-fifths of your food is gone in the last quarter-century, which is staggering,’ he told the magazine earlier this year. ‘One almost hopes that it’s not representative – that it’s some strange artifact.’ The so-called ‘windscreen phenomenon’ has been blamed by experts on the increasing use of pesticides over the past 50 years. And it’s not just the kind of insect you find on your windscreen that is affected. Since 2006, bee colonies have declined by about a third due to the chemicals, as well as the loss of flower-rich grassland. This was backed up by Matt Shadlow, chief executive of the insect charity Buglife, who told the paper: ‘Yes, indeed this is a well-recognised phenomenon. ‘Just today we had a member of the public phone up and say, unprompted, that “the front of my car is now devoid of insects, and there are virtually no moths in the headlights.”‘ Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4827190/Windscreens-free-inects-signal-alarming-decline-bugs.html#ixzz4r86NgaRb Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook Share this:Click to email this to...

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