SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM
Minutes of meeting held on Monday 24th January 2011 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers.
As per the attendence register.
1. Welcome / Apologies & Attendance Register
2. Approval of the previous Minutes
3. Action items from the last Minutes
4. Additional Items Under General
Action : Martin to follow up before the winter rains.
5. Baboon Management Challenges on the Cape Peninsula - Associate Professor Justin O’Riain.
There has been much in the media about the problems with baboons recently. Water is critical for baboons and their numbers increase where farmers have made permanent water places.
Over the years, their environment has changed - other than humans, baboons no longer have any predators which are key to their eco-system. Without predators, troops spread out which makes management more difficult. Baboons are generalist eaters and opportunistic - they will eat grass, mussels, mushrooms, meat etc. which makes them more successful mammals.
On mountain tops there is no food for baboons - this they find lower down. We would like them to eat on the mountain tops and stay away from where we live, but no food makes this problematical. There are no records of baboons eating higher than 400 metres. 55% of where they found ideal feeding as been urbanized and lost to them.
In 2006 - 2007 they were in the pine plantations. Since then there has been an increase in numbers from 115 to 168 and there are now four troops in the Tokai area. They are currently in the last standing population of pine trees. Only 16% of land is left where baboons may have thrived.
Currently there are 475 baboons on the Cape Peninsula and having more baboons is more of a challenge for management. The Tokai troops are exceptional - they are bigger than usual because of good food and no predation. Self-regulation has been suggested as a management tool. Of the 16 troops, 13 in the Peninsula are being actively managed - mainly with baboon monitors in each area armed with whistles, they clap and shout to scare baboons away. When the monitors were on strike, the incidents of the baboons entering urban areas (Kommetjie Hotel) increased substantially. Bear bangers have been tried in Simonstown and have shown to be successful because the baboons did not cross the line where these were set off. But the NSPCA have declared them cruel and they are not allowed currently, despite the 100% success rate. There is discussion to try and convince NSPCA to be part of the solution and not part of the problem!. The electric fence at Steenberg has also been very successful.
Mandy referred to the new legislation advocating the use of soft (gin) traps - and asked if these can be used with baboons which are a protected species. Justin replied to the effect that if one can show that the baboons are causing loss, a permit can be applied for to kill up to five a day.
6. Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) in the Sand River Catchment - Louise Stafford.
The invasive species management programme (i.r.o. plants) was commenced by the City in 2008, and funded by Sanbi for three years. The principle is that if a problem is detected early enough and responded to rapidly, it may be possible to get rid of the problem. If left too long, then it becomes very hard and expensive to control as well as becoming a fire risk and threat to biodiversity which impacts on ecosystems.
The interventions of the EDRR comprise manual labour, chemicals, mechanical and biological. EDRR fits in after a species has been introduced and has spread, but some species are not listed and these are becoming a problem.
The current legislation is the Conservation of Agricultural Resources and National Environment Management : Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) regulations, which are not yet approved. Cape Nature is the implementing authority. City is currently busy with an invasive species policy of its own and hopes to become an authority under NEMBA to issue notices to take action.
Early detection is a pro-active approach which focuses on new and emerging species before they become a problem. Rapid response (RR) is the removal of plants before they become established - eradicate and monitor.
The EDRR programme has a network (teams of ten) of spotters drawn from previously unemployed people who have been specially trained from scratch, together with experts who identify the plants and confirm that they can be removed. The process consists of a species being spotted - by the public, City officials, colleagues - a report is made - this is verified by an expert and the RR team removes the problem plant. If it is spotted again, the process recommences. The position of the “invasive” plant needs to be known and this involves awareness, communication and education.
How the species that are considered invasive were selected - those listed in NEMBA as well as expert input. The aim is to have an online database (which is
under development). Anyone interested can register as a spotter - he/she will be given a number
- they upload the GPS position if something is spotted - the information will be verified and the team will move in. The list will be continually updated - if there is a complaint from the public and there is confirmation, it will be added to the list.
The interactive website is www.capetown.gov.za/edrr and the vision is to have a web based reporting system with an active network with collaboration between the different departments of City.
Critical success factors include the detection and removal of species, follow up and monitoring and collaboration, support and participation by the public.
Concern was expressed about clearing aliens during the Leopard Toad breeding season. Louise responded that this has been checked with John Measey to ensure that it is not a problem, because they do not want to solve one problem just to create another. The clearing of aliens improves the leopard toad habitat.
Candice said it was interesting that the water hyacinth was dying which indicates a water quality issue. It has been found that survival of juvenile frogs can be jeopardised in water heavily infested with hyacinth, as there will not be enough food for them.
Liz B suggested that the nurseries and garden clubs should be made aware of the legislation and this should be applicable to these organizations/businesses the intention is to build relationships with the nursery industry and to give talks at garden clubs. Louise said that once the website is operational there will be much more publicity.
7. Aquatic Weed Management Plan for the Sand River - Kate Snaddon.
Mandy and Kate had been tasked/contracted to look at aquatic weed management in the whole of the City and to choose a pilot area. As stated in the last minutes, after some research, the Sand River catchment was selected. A detailed plan was developed focusing on the western portion of the catchment (i.e. all rivers except the Diep system) and a systematic survey was undertaken of this sub-catchment. A detailed survey was taken every 250 metres looking at what species occur in the streams and other water bodies. The area was divided into 6 management areas - Keysers River, Westlake River, Prinseskasteel, Prinskasteel, Grootboskloof, Spaanschemat. These Management Areas comprise 29 river reaches (which vary in size).
The management plan which has a lot of detail will contain information on :-
There will be different targets depending on what is found in each reach, but they will be realistic. There is also a decision matrix which will assist in choosing which method of intervention to choose looking at the different criteria of the reach e.g. access, flow etc.
Justin O’Riain asked whether the website will include a series of steps so that a member of the public can remove aquatic weeds themselves following the steps. The Aquatic Weed project has produced a set of fact sheets for the 13 species that includes ID & control methods. This will also be available on the website. A bookmark to identify species is being made with information on the various species. Anyone can remove aquatic weeds, but it would be preferable to check with Louise Stafford so that harmful chemicals are not used.
8. Water Quality issues in the Catchment - Candice Haskings
An electronic copy of Candice’s water quality report is attached. There had been no outbreaks of blue-green algae occurring in Zandvlei (Jan 09-Dec 10) - the outbreak in the Westlake river in July 2010 was sufficiently diluted before reaching Zandvlei. The report included a section that outlines how many mouthfuls of water a toddler, woman or man would need to swallow to ingest an infectious dose of E. coli - this provides an indication of the “real” probability of becoming ill as a result of ingesting water from Zandvlei.
Q The recommendation for clearing 50% of aquatic weeds (Little Princessvlei & Die Oog) was questioned. It was suggested that management should rather focus on
introducing indigenous alternatives.
There was no further time at the meeting for the final presentation items on the agenda;
Meeting closed at 16h50.
9. Next Meeting
Monday, 29th March 2011 at 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers.
In the week following the meeting, Martin Thompson received the following email from Prof. Dennis Davey of Friends of Die Oog :
I regret that I will be unable to attend the meetings of the Sand River Catchment Forum on Tuesdays as I have a clinic at Goote Schuur on those days. I would be grateful however if my name could be kept on the mailing list and if I could be sent copies of the minutes of the meetings.
I must congratulate you on re-establishing the Forum which is a most valuable organisation and the very high standard of the presentations and the people that you get to speak.
Action: Martin to instruct Riana to include Mr and Mrs Pearce on the mailing list - for these minutes as well.