Greenleaders Awards ~ 7th December 2018

Our year end function is about celebrating a good year, to have fellowship with like minded people, and to say thanks to those who worked behind the scenes making our club the success it is.

At this year’s function we also want to  thank the unsung heroes of our community, those people who took the initiative to clear alien invasive species, establishing a memorial park and  looking after the interests of  Steenbok Nature Reserve. We  decided to  praise their efforts, to say thank you and to award them our first Greenleaders Award for outstanding environmental service to the community.

Our first recipient is Roger Voysey from Steenbok Nature Reserve.

Roger Voysey

Roger has been working on the betterment of Steenbok for the last 15 years.  The park was home to illegal fishermen, and homeless people squatting in Kingfisher Creek.  It was also the dumping ground for builder’s rubble and garden waste.

This desirable area was eyed by developers, and possible re-zoning was also in the offing. In order to safe guard the future existence of the reserve Roger worked tirelessly to obtain protected status for the reserve, it has been a long process, but hopefully it will be granted next year.

There was no funding for projects, Roger with the help of Peter Godsell established Friends of Steenbok Trust. With the trust money, grants from LIRA and a small grant from the municipality improvements were made to Steenbok.

The gardened areas were expanded and improved, brick pathways were laid, boardwalks were installed in the salt marsh, the entrance was upgraded with notice boards and improved landscaping,  the list goes on and on. A website featuring all the plants and wildlife was implemented about six years ago, all the photographs and write ups were done by Roger, a long and painstaking job.

All his  projects were meticulously planned and completed, the very last project is now in the process of being executed. The King Fisher project is probably his most challenging to date as it is overrun by Madeira vine, Morning Glory, Lantana and Swordfern. To get access a lot of natural vegetation had to be removed, much to the dismay of some residents.

What Roger has done for the betterment of Steenbok is remarkable. His legacy will live on in the enjoyment that visitors to Steenbok get; the lovely vistas, the peace and the beauty of this very special place.

Our second recipient is Nanna Joubert from Pledge Nature Reserve

Nana’s involvement with Pledge started a few years ago when Pledge was in dire straits, there was no guidance, leadership nor  vision.  With her background as a horticulturist specialising in rehabilitation she made a huge difference, but the time of her prominence came after the fire of 2017. All the fynbos was gone, the offices, store rooms, information centre and manager’s home were completely razed to the ground.  Fences, bridges, signage and walkways were also badly burned or destroyed. These man-made structures are now being constructed, but it is the long term effect of the fire on the vegetation that needs planning and action.

The prolific growth of wattle needed serious action, with no funding Nana started Weeding Wednesdays.  Via social media and the press she asked for volunteers to offer their services once a week on a Wednesday morning pulling out wattle. Weeding Wednesdays made a huge difference, as certain parts of the reserve is now relatively free of weeds and the fynbos is coming back.

The reserve is manage and maintained by the Pledge nature reserve trust, a non-profit organization which is financed by grants, donations and ongoing fundraising efforts. The trust is committed to conserve the natural systems in the Reserve for the benefit of all residents and visitors of Knysna, and to fulfil a most important environmental education function. The only employed personnel are a manager and two labourers with other roles filled by volunteers.

Nana is always willing to share her vast knowledge of plants, her  commitment and passion to conserve and improve our environment is inspirational.

Our third recipient is Makkie Botha from Brenton’s Alien Busters.

Makkie Botha

The initial clearing of aliens was done by Makkie and her family with the help of their gardener.  She soon realised that this task was must bigger than she can cope with. She called on friends who were passionate about removing the wattle and that gave  birth to the ‘Knysna Alien Busters.’  Makkie is also known as the ‘Alien Blond’

They formulated a plan of action, trained unemployed workers, and went into the field removing wattle and other invasive species.  They started their project  at Margaret’s Viewpoint, working their way down the hills to Brenton on Sea hotel.  Their efforts inspired residents of Brenton to volunteer their services a few hours a week.

Knysna Alien Busters have since spread their activities to Knysna and Rheenendal. They now charge a fee for clearing and removal of Invasive species.  The initiative is not profit driven, all income generated create a few more jobs and pays for equipment, overalls, and transport

Makkie has  done wonders to restore the indigenous flora along the Brenton Road.  I was astounded to see the prolific colonies of Selago burchellii, the views are spectacular since the removal of dead trees, the area looks loved and care for.

Our last recipient, Clare Miller from Eastford.

Clare Miller

The estate of Eastford was affected in different ways, 25 houses were razed to the ground and most of the vegetation was destroyed. The  emergence of wattle coming up by their millions spearheaded Clare, her husband Duncan and their two gardeners into action,  soon other volunteers offered their services and great inroads were made. But Clare had other ideas … she is a creative person, enthusiastic, spontaneous, positive and has an incredible zest for life.  She wanted to do more than pulling weeds, she was going to create a park, full of beauty where kids can play and the oldies can sit on benches gazing at the views over the lagoon to the Heads.

She approached like minded people and in no time a friend, who runs a travel agency, contacted her clients in Australia and America who made substantial donations to plant up the estate.  They were able to do the clearing and to buy plants for Clare’s Park.

She went to collect bricks from all the demolished houses; with these bricks she constructed a Golden Mean according to the Fibonacci sequence. Trees, shrubs and succulents are now growing beautifully in the soil enriched by the ash. Although the funds have dried up she continues to work once a week with a gardener employed by the estate, she plans to create an aloe walkway, a restio and grass circle and if funds come in an organic playground where kiddies can crawl through logs and over stumps.   Clare’s imagination, enthusiasm, tenacity and sheer hard work is an inspiration to all.