The rehabilitation of Steenbok Nature Reserve west of the tennis courts.
You may have noticed some serious activity in the area west of the tennis courts, it is all due to the action taken by Roger Voysey, Curator of the Park. This area has been on his mind for many years, but owing to various constraints the project has been on hold for a while. Now it is all action!
Steenbok Nature Reserve secured the expertise of Credo Environmental Services for guidance, also to prepare a Management Plan for the eradication of Invasive Alien Species . This plan conforms to pre-requisites set out by NEMBA legislation: it includes a list of alien invaders occurring in the area, control methods, and follow-up time-lines. This five year plan is the blue-print for managing this part of the park, and to rehabilitate it back to Dune Fynbos.
The area was neglected for many years making it a dumping ground for garden waste and builders rubble. The overgrown Taaibos ,(Searsia lucida) Bakbesembos (Nidorella ivyfolia), Morning glory vine, (Ipomoea purpurea), Sordfern (Nephrolepis cordifolia) and various other invaders systematically smothered some of the Reserves most precious plants, making it very difficult for them to survive.
Roger has divided the area into blocks as advised by Rudi Minnie from Credo Environmental Services. The ‘cleared’ areas will be spot treated with a selective herbicide because some of the invaders can’t be hand-pulled or dug out. The area next to the treated block will be left untouched so that it can become a ‘corridor’ for wildlife. Once the treated areas are rehabilitated, the ‘untreated’ areas will be tackled. This will be a time- consuming process, but it will be done. Roger has set himself a goal to have all the alien invaders removed by the end of this year, thereafter it will be follow-ups until the Reserve is clear.
The biggest challenge at the moment is the removal of the sword fern that has invaded areas near Kingfisher Creek. This fern forms a 15cm thick coir-like mat of roots with the occasional tuber. Through its aggressive spread, sword fern is able to form dense stands and quickly displace native vegetation. Because it is a true fern, it reproduces via spores. Thousands of spores can be produced by one plant and these can be dispersed by wind and water. Spore production occurs year-round in southern Cape.
Hand pulling can be used to remove some of the fern plants, but the plants will break off, leaving plant parts in the ground from which regrowth will occur. Plants can be killed with herbicides containing glyphosate, not the ideal solution, but strict guidelines for the application of herbicides will be followed. Follow-up applications are necessary to control plants regrowing from rhizomes and tubers.
Visit this ‘new’ part of Steenbok, there are numerous new pathways and beautiful new views. Meander through Aristea and Chasmanthe that were previously covered with Nidorella, and watch out for emerging Satyrium and Brunsvigia. Next spring and summer will see the emergence of many other species!
Since the Garden Club’s inception we have donated money to Steenbok Nature Reserve. This year’s contribution will go towards the funds necessary for the eradication of Alien Invasive Species. A big thank you to Roger for his vision, dedication and enthusiasm – without Roger at the helm, Steenbok as it is today would not have been possible.
Department of Environmental Affairs new pamphlet .. quite cheeky!