Zandvlei Trust

Source To Sea - exploring our Catchment with GIS
Feb 2009.

All the photographs by Ally Ashwell.

As dawn broke on 11 February, the south-easter was thumping and the cloud over Constantiaberg was like a woollen cap pulled down conspiratorially over Elephant's Eye. 40 Grade 11s and their teachers from Bergvliet, Crestway, Muizenberg and Zwaanswyk High Schools gathered in the misty forest below the Silvermine dam for the first of two inter-schools hikes that will see teens exploring the Keyser's River / Zandvlei catchment using GPS and GIS technology.

Nathalie Bucher from Independent Newspapers making notes.

This programme is part of the City of Cape Town's Youth Environmental School. The first hike took place just after World Wetlands Week and this year's theme "Upstream, Downstream - Wetlands Connect Us All" set the tone perfectly. The first hike explored the "upstream" section of the catchment: Prinskasteel Stream, and the second hike (28 April 2009) will explore the "downstream" sections of the Prinskasteel, Keyser's River and Zandvlei.

Christa Stringer and Leighan Mossop from the Table Mountain National Park
introducing the group to the park.

Senior Section Ranger Leighan Mossop and Head of Education Christa Stringer, welcomed learners, teachers and guides on behalf of the Table Mountain National Park, telling us about the work of the park and career opportunities in SANParks.

Alice Ashwell, coordinator of the GIS Hikes, called all the people invovled in the hikes "heroes of the environment" - with the learners being extra special because they are the heroes of the present and the future. She dedicated the hike to the memory of a "fallen hero", Craig Haskins. Craig was an employee of the City of Cape Town who, with his wife Candice, had contributed valuable information to the pack of resource materials that the schools involved in the hike had been given. Craig had been killed in a cycling accident on Ou Kaapse Weg the week before.

Two Group B girls having a rest on the way up the mountain.

Alice outlined the day's activities and introduced the other guides:

  • Leighan and Christa from the National Park,

  • Chris Walker from Friends of Silvermine,

  • James Forsyth from Friends of Tokai Forest,

  • Andrea Gordon from WESSA

  • Alric Farmer from the City of Cape Town

  • We were also delighted to have Russell Hope from the CIty of Cape Town and GISSA (the professional GIS users' association) with us for the hike.

  • Geoge Davis from SANBI lugged his video camera up the hill to take footage of the field trip.

  • and journalist Nathalie Bucher from Independent Newspapers and a photographer, Skyler Reid, joined us for part of the hike, gathering a story for the Argus Education Supplement of 18 February.

Alric Farmer and Mr Le Mesurier demonstrating the GPS instruments with the girls.

Three groups, made up of learners from each of the four schools, set off with their guides to learn how to use a GPS and to do one of three investigations: fynbos ecology, seasonal streams and wetlands, and land use and conservation in the catchment. The learners took photographs and GPS positions of interesting things they observed, and found out more about their topic from their guides, as well as from GIS maps and information sheets in their resource packs.

The hike up to Elephants Eys Cave, in the background.

Group B having a break, waiting for the slower ones.

As we hiked up the hill to find the source of the Prinskasteel Stream, the wind dropped, the clouds lifted and we were treated to a magnificently sunny day, with views to inspire and entice. Finally we all arrived at Elephant's Eye cave or, as James Forsythe told us, Prinseskasteel. James entertained us with the legend of the Khoi Princess after whom the cave, one of the streams and Princess Vlei are named. Learners then shared what they had experienced during the hike. The strangest thing was watching Alice sitting in the cave and downloading the learners' photographs to her laptop!

George Davis filmimg in the background, Alice updating
her laptop in Elephants Eye Cave.

After enjoying packed lunches, and having a chance to look at the "downstream" sections of the catchment that the learners will be exploring in April, it was time to go. The youth bounded down the mountain like a herd of klipspringer, leaving the adults doddling in their wake.

Teachers from Muizenberg, Crestway and Bergvliet High Schools
Mr John Nyamunday, Mr Chris Rafferty and Mr Tim Le Mesurier.

The schools have since received a CD of all the GPS points the learners collected, as well as their photographs. With the GIS Layers and Aerial Photographs they have received from the City of Cape Town, they will now be able to make their own interactive GIS maps of their hike experience.

We're looking forward to joining up with Friends of Tokai Forest, the Keysers River Partnership, Zandvlei Trust and the Zandvlei Nature Reserve in April to complete our catchment explorations!

For more information contact;

Ally Ashwell     021 788 2431
                       082 720 7444


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