September is Arbour month, the month for planting!

September is Arbour month, the month for planting!
Published: 19 September 2017

Spring is upon us, and we started off September by visiting schools around Cape Town and teaching about the need to protect our rapidly disappearing natural habitats.  The CLT Enviro team was involved in quite a few Arbour week related activities. These included giving talks at schools and planting indigenous fynbos plants at the schools as well as running eco-clubs which also involved a talk and some planting activities. 

We were fortunate enough to have Bongani Mnisi from the City of Cape Town joining us for our Arbour day talk at Muizenberg Junior School. Bongani heads up some of the City’s reserves and is also involved in the City’s Iingcungcu Project. Iingcungcu is the IsiXhosa word for long-billed sunbirds and sugarbirds. The project highlights the threats facing these pollinating bird species and the need to restore natural bird-attracting vegetation mainly in the Cape Flats areas and schools to aid in creating corridors for these species. After giving my talk on the Biodiversity in the Cape, the threats facing our biodiversity & what we can do about it, Bongani gave a fascinating talk to the students about his project. We then all went outside to plant indigenous water-saving, bird-attracting fynbos plants. The species we planted included Tecomaria capensis (Honeysuckle), Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga), Salvia africana-lutea and Salvia lanceolata (Salvias). These plants were donated to Muizenberg Junior School by the Cape Leopard Trust.

The following week, I was joined by Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area’s (KRCA) People and Conservation officer, Ismail Wambi. Together we visited Golden Grove Primary School in Claremont, Siyazingisa School in Gugulethu, Pelican Park Primary in Pelican Park, Herschel Girls Preparatory School in Claremont and Douglas Road Primary School in Plumstead.  At each of the schools, we did a power-point presentation which introduced the need to protect and conserve our biodiversity, highlighting the fact that planting fynbos shrubs in our gardens and at our schools is one way to help biodiversity.  We involved the children and managed to get them to create and plant their own fynbos gardens. The children had lots of fun getting their hands dirty by digging, landscaping and planting the young plants. The species that we planted included the following: Leucadendron levisanus, Pelargonium capitatum, Eriocephalus africanus (Wild Rosemary), Metalasia densa, Ruschia makowanii, amongst others. All of these plants have these in common: They are indigenous fynbos shrubs; they are low-maintenance, meaning they can be left alone to grow, some may need an occasional pruning; they are water-wise plants and therefore do not need regular watering; some of them, especially the Pelargonium’s and the Wild Rosemary’s attract a variety of pollinators. KRCA kindly donated and supplied the plants. The students were encouraged to keep a watchful eye on their gardens and to look after their plants by ensuring that the gardens are kept clear of any litter, the occasional flying soccer balls, and curious yet potentially destructive little children. 

We’d like to thank the staff, principals and teachers at all of the schools for accepting our invitation and allowing us to talk to the pupils and plant on the school grounds. We need more schools like the abovementioned, to not only help create spaces for plants and animals to flourish but also to instil interest and passion within the minds of our youth. It is our aim in the CLT education project and the aim of many projects and organisations alike, to inspire our youth to become ambassadors for biodiversity. The more schools that involve themselves in these projects or create their own similar projects, the better it is for all. 

- By Catherine Kühn

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