Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of the meeting held on: Monday 24th August 2009 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers

Present

Martin Thompson (chairman) :                 CCT – Catchment, Stormwater and Roads Management (CSRM)
Leighan Mossop :                                   TMNP
Sharon McCallum (secretary minutes):     ZVT
Gavin Lawson :                                       ZVT
Jean Fillis :                                            Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Liz Brunette :                                         CHRA
John Green :                                          WESSA & Friends of Tokai Forest
Cherry Giljam :                                       ZVT
Brian Ratcliffe :                                       FOCVGB
Dennis Davey :                                       Friends of Die Oog
James Forsyth :                                     Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts
Candice Haskins :                                  CCT – CSRM
Mandy Noffke :                                       Wetland Solutions
Prof. Peter Merrington :                           Constantia Valley Heritage Association 
Prof. R E van der Ross :                         Speaker
Nicole Andrews :                                    CCT – ERM
Peter Reynolds :                                    Buitenverwachting
Frenske Otzen :                                     CHRA 
Shane Woldendorp :                               CCT – ERM

Apologies

Lee Leith :                                             Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts
Philippa Huntley :                                  
WESSA
Jean Fillis :                                            Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands 

 

1. WELCOME/ APOLOGIES & ATTENDANCE REGISTER
Martin Thompson, as Chairman, welcomed those present to the meeting and handed out copies of the agenda and previous minutes to those who needed.

2. APPROVAL OF THE PREVIOUS MINUTES
The previous minutes were approved without change. Brian Ratcliff commented, with reference to the SDP (item 5), there should be no shopping malls or any development in wetlands!

3. ACTION ITEMS FROM LAST MINUTES

Item 5 (minutes 25.8.2008 re inviting Lars Maack, CEO of the Constantia Valley Wine Route to meeting) – Peter Reynolds of Buitenverwachting Wine Estate had accepted Gavin’s invitation to attend the meeting.

Item 4 – James Forsyth expressed his appreciation for the correspondence on behalf of SRCF during his ill health.

Item 8 – Source to Sea – Martin advised that he spoke to Kier Hennessy who confirms that the principles of Source to Sea have been embodied in the Spatial Development Framework, but not in detail. The next step is the public process which will comprise a workshop and open day at the Alphen Council Chambers on 30th and 23rd September, respectively. If it is felt that Source to Sea is not adequately embodied, then we can comment individually or as a forum.
Action : MT to circulate the final dates and times of the workshop and open day.

Mandy reported having approached Onno Huyse of WWF on the project and received a positive response. If the project gets formal buy-in from the City and Sanparks, then we can approach him again regarding long term funding. Onno Huyse said that he would be happy to give us a formal letter of support if needed for our negotiations with City and Sanparks.

Item 10 : Tokai Biodiversity Corridor – Leighan will report back later in the meeting on this point. There have been reasonably positive moves from Province and therefore no formal correspondence will be undertaken at this stage.

Item 12 : Candice will report later in the meeting regarding document filing.

4. ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON AGENDA

None

5. KLAASENBOSCH GREENBELT MANAGEMENT PLAN – Mandy Noffke

James and John had asked Mandy to set out the principles behind the maintenance plan taking a strategic approach in what is sought to be achieved. The methodology consisted of a rapid review of what we have on the ground in the area between Spilhaus and Hohenort Aves, and of existing conditions, with recommendations for immediate improvements – to look at the biggest problem areas and consider how these should be tackled – not at the big picture – and at the same to build in a way of keeping an eye on the long term issues.

This will be a very valuable document for future and others’ use for layout and structure. John Green is going to push all other WESSA regions in RSA to use it as a template or model plan, which is a feather in Mandy's cap, Friends of Constantia Greenbelts and also for the SRCF.

What was found was : alien vegetation – creepers everywhere and bamboo; some indigenous enclaves and some impenetrable thicket. Also some palmiet which needs to be preserved and built up. There is some history in the area – old wiers, bridges, railings in a tree – need to maximize the potential.

The guiding principle for the management plan being to improve aesthetics whilst at the same time being cognisant of high use areas, e.g. dog walkers, horse riders, recreational walkers – and also to improve safety, particularly the overgrown areas without losing ecological integrity.

The key element was that it shoud be a short clear and concise handbook for implementation by local residents with GPS reference points and point descriptions. The action tasks would be prioritized into high, medium and long term with focus areas. A herbicide policy was also drawn up – and monitoring guidelines – e.g. look out for eroding paths – consists of one map and one XL spread sheet which can be built on.

James added that they would like the information to be shared. There were many people involved - Parks & Recreation were involved with the supply of trees, locals with funding. Part of the first step is to possibly create an arboretum of indigenous trees based on the species list. This plan/information should also be stored – possibly on a website.

Liz Brunette asked whether the Sewerage /Parks Department of City should not get a copy. Martin responded that it was specific to the area, but that if something could be drawn up in general terms for wetlands in relation to sewerage, this could be given to them.

6. HISTORICAL TALK – Prof. P Merrington

Brian Ratcliff introduced Prof. Merrington of the recently launched Constantia Valley Heritage Association, who in turn would introduce our other guest, Prof. R van der Ross.
Prof. Merrington said that the Association had been registered last year as an official body and had just received its first task – an ROD had been taken to allow demolition of a building in Diep River and the Association is objecting.

He continued with a presentation on some of the relevant history of the area. 2010 is the centenary of South Africa as a nation state and there had been vast changes in the country since its inception. The peninsula is of great importance from an historical and cultural perspective and our heritage is about value and the interpretation of value. He included a brief overview of the origins of heritage, starting with the English National Trust in 1895. A hundred years ago heritage meant more than good monitoring and management – it included good and awkward aspects as there are issues of class and status. In 1905 the first heritage and conservation body in Cape Town was established by Dorothea Fairbridge, the responsibility for which was taken over by the National Monuments Council and then later SAHRA. There was a period when “Africana” was being developed which focused on 3 areas – books, architecture and gardens. The Dutch legacy was being interpreted as gracious Englishness and became Cape Dutch with the many gables.

He finished by emphasizing that we need to conserve and value our heritage - expressing concern about the marginal vestiges of farms and smaller houses in Diep River that need to be identified and protected.

Prof. van der Ross was then introduced by Prof Merrington and invited to continue.

Prof. van der Ross began by informing the meeting that he has strong connections with this part of the world as he was born in a corrugated iron house in Plumstead in 1921, adjacent to a corrugated iron school at the end of Princessvlei Road. His father was born and raised in Strawberry Lane in Constantia where the ‘original people’ of Constantia lived. His father was one of 13 children who were sent to school by his grandfather to ensure that they learnt to read. His father became a school teacher and was the third coloured person to obtain a BA degree. The class system of that time was very English and there was some consternation when an Englishman, Reverend Harry Gray who had married a coloured women and had a child with her, inherited an English title – his wife would be a countess.

He added that he feels that there are still two cultures in Constantia – the feeling of being other is very strong in Constantia, despite the fact that there are very few families in this country that do not have a mixture of blood. Although he sees signs of integration, he doesn’t believe it will ever reach a point of being one nation.

John Green told Prof van der Ross about the Source to Sea project, adding that not only will it be an environmental/green corridor – it is proposed that it will also be a social corridor enabling the residents of the Cape Flats to access Table Mountain.

7. WATER QUALITY – Candice Haskins
Candice presented a number of slides reflecting the levels of different bacteria and nutrients in the water ways of the catchment area.

Phosphorus is generally showing an increasing trend in the amounts of enrichment in the different water bodies, with the exception of Little Princessvlei and Langevlei, which are more static. There has been a lot of change in Die Oog as a result of different interventions. Zandvlei is also showing an increasing trend.
Bacterial compliance levels – there are very few at 100%. In Cape Town phosphorus is generally climbing (with a few places being alright), and there is a declining trend in regard to bacterial compliance.

A series of graphs showing bacterial monitoring from 1995-2009 were presented. Many of the systems exhibit bacterial levels above the intermediate contact recreation guideline. A few systems such as Zandvlei fluctuate around the full contact guideline level. Most rivers exhibit an increasing long term trend in bacterial levels.
Zandvlei is also monitored regularly for salinity which is important for the health of the estuary and shows distinct seasonal trends – less salinity in winter with more fresh water entering the Vlei. The water levels of Zandvlei are managed for ecological and recreational / residential reasons.

Cherry reported large amounts of orange silt in Zandvlei and wondered whether this can be addressed.

Peter Reynolds of Buitenverwagting advised that the silting has got worse since the trees were felled on the mountainside.

Liz said that Princesskasteel, Soetvlei and Grootbosch Rivers have changed completely as a result of orange silt and gravel – they used to be quite deep but the ponds are now gone and there are sandbanks in their place.

John Green added that during recent walks, it had been noticed that there is a huge amount of silt blocking underneath some roads.

Leighan will try and find out what can be done and what it is caused by. She feels it may not be from felling but from damage to gravel vehicular tracks and footpaths.
Action : Leighan Mossop

Liz asked what the intention is for the extra water running down the mountain as a result of felling. James responded that once the fynbos has regrown, the additional water will not be such a problem as the immediate absorption is far higher with fynbos and there is a much slower release.

John Green : It is important that we concentrate on the whole of the Grootboschkloof area above Porter Estate. This is SAFCOL land soon to be handed to TMNP and Porter Estate is Provincial land. He believes that the granite fynbos area will slowly absorb water like a sponge but with the heavy rainfalls we have been having, it gets saturated. It is important to work closely with the farms and Safcol as the area is a major seep and it is only now late in winter that the very high levels of water are running off.

Martin advised of an area in the US that banned the use of phosphate rich fertilisers and a measurable reduction in the phosphate levels in rivers was seen.

George Davis asked about other biological indicators in the water bodies – e.g. fish monitoring.
Action : MT to ask Cassandra Sheasby of GZENR to do a presentation of the fish monitoring.

8. RIVER WALK REPORT BACK – THE PORTER CORRIDOR - Shane Woldendorp

Shane handed out a report with pictures of the river walk held on 27th July 2009.

Proceeding up the mountain from SanPark’s offices below Tokai Manor House, various points of inspection were described;

  • on the mountain where a seep has formed after harvesting 5 years ago;

  • then the dam at the old Porter Estate

  • small pond in the wetland adjacent to the “Morning Market” on Porter Estate;

  • where the water eventually flowed into the natural water course through plantations

  • border of Uitsig Estate next to the Stone Church

  • the infilled section of the Soetvlei wetland at the Maths & Science Centre

  • the site of the proposed private development that abuts Soetvlei.

It was agreed that much work needs to be put into the Porter Estate which is an important area to focus on as the it was not clear how saturated the ground was. It seems to have been ignored by Province in the past.

Liz advised that Province had been contacted in an attempt to get them to take action, in regard to the dumping of truck loads of rubble into the river area. Having been and seen the problem, there is now commitment from Province to somehow remove the soil. A question was asked as to who would action this forward, and Martin responded that what Liz Brunette and her group are doing is the best way forward and the most valuable. Liz added that as the meeting with Province had been constructive, no further action should be taken at this stage.

Leighan advised that there are political issues around the Porter Estate property and certain areas will be taken over from Province.

9. GROOTBOSCHKLOOF UPDATE – James Forsyth
James began by saying that the management action that has been undertaken thus far includes the repair of 4 gabions and filling around eroded manholes, all resulting from coordination within the SRCF.

The maintenance plan prepared by Mandy is broken down in to five areas, each having its own management plan which needs to be distributed to all involved so that the lessons learned can be shared.

Revisiting the area the day before to find out what has been happening, it was ascertained that;

  • V-shaping of the banks is working,

  • where banks have been planted, plants are growing;

  • and there are new signs;

  • further up, there is a weir and where there were reeds, there is now an open and well used pathway.

However;

  • paths still need repair and soil redistributed;

  • City Engineering Dept. needs to put pipes down where they have created new sloots and then they need to be covered over;

  • Boardwalks need to be finished off.

James believes that all involved need to agree on the management plan – everyone’s needs must be taken into account. Soft engineering is the foundation for the plan to work well. However the rehabilitation of biodiversity is a community issue. There is still a lot of work to be done.

James finished with a request that the members of SRCF support the people of the Princessvlei area in protesting the proposed new supermarket.

10. TOKAI BIODIVERSITY CORRIDOR – Leighan Mossop
This was covered in item 8 above.

11. GENERAL

11.1 FRIENDS GROUPS REPORT BACK
11.1.1. Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands 
Reported their first AGM to which the Ward Councillor was invited to speak about the area upstream from Kirstenhof. There is a proposal for a primary school to be constructed in a wetland area behind Polsmoor prison – a compromise will involve some sort of rehabilitation after the buildings are completed.
They had received funding from Roland Leta Hill Trust which has been spent on inter alia the planting of 17 indigenous trees and 20 milkwoods, which have still to be planted. Four flower beds have been created with donated plants. City Council Parks Department has cut away the lower branches of trees to improve visibility and safety.
Received R50 000 ward allocation to improve the paths.

11.1.2 Friends of Die Oog
Dennis Davey reported being worried about the absence of Leopard Toads calling – they have not heard one. (Since the meeting, Mark Arendse of ZNR has taken two groups of school children to Die Oog in the evening (first week of Sept) and they have assisted many Leopard Toads – apparently they started calling on Thursday, 287th August). The dam wall had been successfully repaired with bollards. There is a worrisome Rhus in the area which has been taken over by reed cormarants. Their AGM is on 14th October and Russell Stevens will be talking on Western Leopard Toads.

11.1.2. Zandvlei Trust
Sharon advised that, together with Zandvlei Nature Reserve, the Trust had joined the Do-It-Day initiative and would be coordinating a litter clean up on the 18th September 2009. It is fully subscribed by volunteers from Reddam School.

11.1.3. Constantia Hills Residents Association
Litter clean up – John Green added that there are poplars on Municipal land (not Porter Estate) and it is critical that they be cleared as they are causing a litter problem.

11.2. Document filing
Candice has investigated the filing of documents via the City but is concerned about what happens to the various reports. We need somewhere to store them but they also need to be accessible. City website is one alternative but there are strict protocols and she does not think it could be used for our purposes. Alternatively, there is an internal document management system via a sharepoint but it is not accessible to the general public.

Gavin has suggested an independent website but mentioned that there are costs involved. He feels that the document records of SRCF are our legacy and it is vitally important.
Action : Gavin will put a proposal together with costing which can be considered for fund raising.

11.3. Next Western Cape Wetlands Forum meeting is on 2nd September 2009.

12. NEXT MEETING

Monday, 23rd November 2009 at 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers.

                                                                                                                                    

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