Conservancy discusses invasive species and creation of green jobs


THE Bathurst Village Conservancy (BVC) held its AGM recently where they discussed invasive lantana and inkberry problems, as well providing green jobs.

This year the conservancy focused its funds on clearing lantana and inkberry. In order to raise awareness of their activities they worked in the centre of Bathurst to clear the green space known as Kew Gardens opposite Shangri-La and Elizabeth’s Herb Nursery, as well as the area opposite the Pig and Whistle.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: The Bathurst Village Conservancy elected a new committee on Saturday. From left are George Danilatos, chairman Stephen Forder, Lindsay Walker, Serena Gess, secretary Jane Jackson, Sylvia Grey and treasurer Margie Addenbrooke Picture: SUPPLIED

The latter area was used for the Bathurst Country Affair and their efforts were much appreciated by the organisers.

“The resulting article in the Talk of the Town was good for publicity and made many villagers more aware of our existence,” said outgoing chairman Lindsay Walker.

They also cleared inkberry from around the Bathurst spring which has improved it greatly. They are currently making good progress on the Toposcope road or Nico Malan but have now exhausted funds.

Committee member Sylvia Grey asked if there was any legal recourse if neighbours refused to clear lantana.

Quintus Hahndiek of provincial nature conservation replied that the department of agriculture had never imposed fines on property owners for having alien vegetation on their properties.

Steven Forder wondered if it would be possible to pelletise lantana to use as a biofuel.

Mark Addenbroooke felt that the conservancy needed a publicity campaign, possibly through Talk of the Town, to educate people about alien plants, as many people do not recognise them.

The planting of honeysuckle or plumbago where lantana had been cleared was suggested. Serena Gess said that tomatoes could be planted in gardens where lantana had been removed as they grow exceptionally well in this soil. Their abundant growth also inhibits the growth of lantana seeds.

Forder raised the issue of green jobs which are an initiative of the government to employ people in preserving biodiversity. He said that BVC could possibly get involved and provide jobs on a large scale as Bathurst falls into a biodiversity hotspot.

Hahndiek suggested they bring on board deputy director of community/protection services, Fanie Fouche and contact the national department of environmental affairs.

Forder added that conservation and biodiversity tend to be seen as elitist issues, so these need to be linked to social upliftment.

Margie Addenbrooke raised concerns over the condition of Bathurst’s roads since the floods. It was agreed that the BVC should link up with the Bathurst Ratepayers Association and the Bathurst Business Forum and raise their concerns with Ndlambe municipality.

Alma Schumann said she had noticed prickly pear growing in Pussyfoot Lane and also on the road to Water’s Meeting. Hahndiek said a herbicide for prickly pear, called MSMA, is available from the department of agriculture in Fort Beaufort. It is arsenic-based so needs to be used with care.

Members wondered when and whether the Water’s Meeting Reserve was open. The gate is locked and the phone is not answered.

Hahndiek said the manager at Thomas Baines Reserve outside Grahamstown oversees Water’s Meeting, so concerns could addressed to him. Alternatively, the district manager is Wayne Erlank at Baviaanskloof.

There is general dissatisfaction over the entry fee, which is very high. A dual payment system could mean that locals get a reduced rate.

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