Supporting a water-secure Overberg (our ABI AGM)

03

OCTOBER, 2019

Is the Overberg’s water secure? That was the theme at the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Annual General Meeting. 

The meeting was held at the Agulhas National Park on Wednesday, 25 September. 

Despite short bouts of rain, the Overberg remains dry.

According to Reinard Geldenhuys, Chief Fire Officer at the Overberg District Municipality, the impacts of the drought are clear following the recent fire at the Denel Overberg Test Range. “We had such aggressive fire behaviour at that fire. That’s as a result of the drought and climate change.”

Geldenhuys said early weather forecasts suggest below average rains and above average temperatures between now and December, as has been the case over the past few months.

 

“We’re getting veld fires throughout the year now. So we need to be wildfire ready all year.”

He highlighted invasive alien plants as a key driver of wildfires.

Dr Jaco Nel of the University of the Western Cape also highlighted the impact of invasive plants on water. He said recent studies have found invasive plants consume around half of the available groundwater in certain river catchments on the Agulhas Plain.

 

In the Overberg, a number of projects are looking to address the challenges created by invasive plants.

 

• The ABI Alien Clearing Programme, implemented by Flower Valley Conservation Trust, is clearing invasives on around 5,700 hectares of natural landscapes over the next year. The project is funded in part by the Department of Environmental Affairs, with co-funding support from landowners and philanthropic donors.

• At the same time, the ABI Coordination Unit, run by Flower Valley Conservation Trust, is looking at launching a Water Fund in the Overberg. A Water Fund provides nature-based solutions to threats to water security, including invasive plants. The Nature Conservancy is now helping ABI to finalise a feasibility scoping report on the fund.

The meeting participants also discussed the green economy in the Overberg.

Carla Ackerman was recently appointed as the ABI Green Economy Theme Leader. She said at the AGM, “We’re now trying to coordinate all the green economic activities on the ground. We want to know how much of what is where.”

With this baseline information, she will then work with partners to compile a green economy strategy for the Overberg.

She’s now inviting members of the public to contact her to provide relevant green economy information. “There is enormous potential, with lots of people, and with a clear strategy, we can work in a direction in a proactive way, not a reactive one.”

To get in touch with Carla to participate in the green economy theme:

WhatsApp or SMS the word ‘green’, with your name, to 073 223 6159. Carla will then get in touch with you for further information.

She will also be hosting roundtable discussions on the green economy theme. The discussions will be hosted on 12, 13 and 14 November in the Overberg (the venue will be confirmed soon).

For more info, email Carla: green@agulhasbiodiversity.co.za or contact: 072 382 6712.

 

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