by Catherine Philips
Last Saturday the Huis Andrew Murray children joined together with Thrive Hout Bay in combating the spread of Aliens.
Thrive Hout Bay is an NGO that works closely with the locals of Hout Bay with the aim to make Hout Bay a better place. They focus on encouraging an eco-friendly approach and promote this at schools and to the public.
Thrive had invited its partners and friends to a day of 'uprooting Port Jackson' up on the slopes behind Hout Bay, along the Baviaanskloof river. These slopes have been affected in various ways by the fire that happened earlier this year and most notably is the proliferation of the Port Jackson. The spread of these seedlings is extensive and this poses a major problem for the natural vegetation and the eco-system. Port Jackson is adapted to fire and when the fire happened earlier this year, the seeds spread like 'wildfire'. These little aliens are all coming up and it is best to take them out now before they get too big.
The HAM children were very effective in pulling up the plants and each group got a marked out block where they had to work. We were given tools and a scorecard and were asked to take out as many seedlings as possible and record our number. Penny Brown from the Mountain Club of South Africa gave a talk on the best techniques to pulling them out i.e. you have to get it at the root otherwise it will coppice and just grow again!
The children had a great time getting their hands dirty in the sand and in total, together with local helpers, the group pulled out about 8000 Port Jackson seedlings that day!
This is a great achievement and will help that little bit more in keeping the mountain slopes free of aliens. Well done to all the children, they had lots of fun and worked hard at the same time. They were rewarded with a visit to Hout Bay beach where they all cooled off in the water. A big thank you must be given to Springbok Atlas who sponsored the transport for this outing and made this day possible, to Richard, our driver who was superb and patient with us. Thank you to Bronwen Lankers-Byrne from Thrive who organised the event, to Penny Brown for her help and knowledge sharing, Mike from Thrive for your support and also to Geduld from HAM who helped me with managing all the children.