Jewels September 2007 Andre and Elaine du Preez VF



Jewels September 2007 Andre and Elaine du Preez VF
C/o P O Box 98 WILDERNESS 6560. Tel/Fax: 044 877 1360
E-mail: [email protected]
Jewels of the Garden Route
At the Garden Route Branch AGM on 19 May 2007 the members present unanimously supported a
proposal for a regional pilot project (subsequently approved by Council in June 2007) that replaces the
conventional committee structure with a regional representative. This arrangement creates an
opportunity to communicate on a completely different level. Happily “Jewels” is an enduring theme and
therefore the ideal vehicle to keep our members and Region in national focus on a regular basis. So
here we are!
Andrè and Elaine du Preez inspired us from our very first meeting. Sharing the success of this
energetic and determined young couple with an inborn love for the land and a burning ambition to
restore their farm to the original splendour of limestone fynbos, characteristic of the
Riversdale/Albertinia coastal plains was an absolute joy. This landscape contains many endemic
vegetation species and natural fountains. Unfortunately some of the worst negative consequences of
alien invasive species, viz. depletion of groundwater resources and most obvious the displacing of
indigenous vegetation, are also there for all to see. This in itself makes the work that is being done on
Eagle’s Rest just that much more valued.
The entire farm of approx 550 Ha was heavily infested (about 95%) with Acacia saligna (Port
Jackson), Acacia Cyclops (Rooikrans), Acacia mearnsii (Black wattle) and Leptospermum Laevigatum
(Australian myrtle). Over a period of 7 years, through experimentation, research and some
unconventional approaches a large portion of the farm has
been effectively cleared and restored. Any undesirable
regrowth in these areas are being kept under control with a
regular follow-up programme and the clearing action goes
Along a circular route Andrè explained the various clearing
methods employed and discussed their efficacy. We were
enthused by his ingenuity, absolutely essential considering
the scale of the task, and on one occasion our preconceived
notions had us keeping our fingers crossed - just to find that a well thought-out lateral approach to a
dense infestation can also have stunning results, with surprisingly little damage to or loss of the
indigenous plants.
These young conservationists demonstrate both biodiversity preservation in action and an unshakeable
faith in the future - an inspiring combination indeed. Best of all – the longevity of the fynbos seed
bank brings rich rewards when the aliens are gone. The natural veld flourishes once again –
Thamnochortis Insignis (dekriet) and several other restio species, Erica Bauerii, pin cushions, proteas,
and too many others to list – we just kept on finding more. Is alien clearing worthwhile, does it work?
An unequivocal yes and the rewards are priceless.
Photos: Bob McIntyre

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