21.9 C
Mossel Bay
28th November 2023
Community & LivingNature & Nurture

Green Belt Fights Back

There’s a nest of ants in my PC. They moved into the disk drive about three months ago, and since then I cannot listen to my Bon Jovi or Led Zeppelin CDs, which is disturbing for me. However, I have learned to accept this in a philosophical kind of way: that this nature making use of what warmth and hospitality humans can provide. And so the ants have stayed on through the winter.
The truth is though, that ants belong in the wild. I have a deep affinity for all creatures and plant life – it has to do something with growing up on a farm, and as a 6 year old being enchanted by sunlight through the dewdrops on the long Boland grass, fish eagles, the occasional neurotic and scary Cape cobra or duiker bounding through the fynbos…and of course ant nests.
I submit that nature should never be too far from us, as I am convinced we lose touch with our inner connection to life itself, and become grumpy bent-over wraith versions of ourselves when we neglect this nexus. No use criticising this generation for mobile phones and for not enjoying the outdoors, if we sanction large scale insensitive development which obliterates any chance they have of ever knowing and experiencing it.
Nature is a privilege. Not some carcass we are entitled to saw and mince up in the name of ‘progress’. In Reebok/ Tergniet we have erf 271, a 44ha piece of unspoilt coastal thicket and endangered Grootbrak Dune Strandveld biome, sandwiched between Impala Road and the railway line. The Midbrak Conservancy has been working ceaselessly to preserve this pristine piece of natural heritage and all that it represents from being lost for all time, ensuring that in the near future we will not only have photographs to remember it by.
We have already lost massive tracts of incredible coastal green belts to ribbon development (‘lintontwikkeling’) over the last few decades, and the danger is we let this remaining ancient jewel, be bulldozed flat, tarred, and then indignantly feathered with yet more houses.
To assist us in bringing some parity to the situation, the Midbrak Conservancy was delighted to host CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) at the instance of nature stalwart Sandra Falanga. On the day, CREW members Nicky van Berkel, Gail Nootenboom, Rusell Bantich and Sally Adam were accompanied by Stuart Thomson (of Great Brak Conservancy) and Robin Fick, Wendy Wiles and Matt Thorpe (of Midbrak Conservancy), and got about identifying every species they could.
Progress was slow, as each new species was thoroughly identified and ticked off or added to the check list. Nicky is a qualified botanist, and together with the remainder of the self-taught botanical enthusiasts, they identified most of the species they expected, and at least four that are classified as redlisted and endangered, rare or near threatened: Muraltia knysnaensis (EN), Euchaetis albertiniana (EN), Cullumia carlinoides (NT) and Agathosma muirii (Vulnerable).
Approximately 25 species not previously recorded, were identified. As this was Spring, many species are easier to identify as they are in bloom.
What was noticeable for me, was not only how the plant fundis enthused like they had discovered unimaginable treasures, but that people’s demeanours calmed and melted barely 15 minutes into the walk. They had left the world of digital dementia, bad news and stress at the threshold of this garden, and become centred humans again.
As such I advocate that Erf 271 is not only a privilege, but a right for our humanness and a therefore gift we must protect at all costs.
Please support Midbrak Conservancy whether that be with your hearts, time, networking or donations. This plea counts for Great Brak Conservancy and all conservancies along our coastline which put in thankless time to make our living areas a place where humans have and should continue to live.
(Photo’s taken by Sharnè Thorpe)

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