Steenbok Nature Reserve - Garden Route Nature walks, dog walks and exploration, Knysna Salt marshes, coastal and dune vegetation Leisure Isle Knysna Aquifer water in Steenbok Park

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Newsletter April 2018



On the 28 March we held the Twelfth Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust. This newsletter provides a general update and a summary of the reports presented at this meeting.

Peace and Tranquility

Welcome steady rains in recent months has generated vibrant growth in the flora and fauna of the Reserve providing beautiful landscapes and experiences. As one of our members described it.
The insects were out in abundance:
Butterflies:The Cape Autumn Widows were flying low over all the uncut grassy areas – what a sight to behold! Hundreds of them had recently emerged! There were also lots of other butterfly species, of which I could identify four: Sooty Blue, Brown Veined White, Painted Lady, Citrus Swallowtail.
These butterflies were not visiting any of the flowering plants, which is proof that we need lots of those uncut ‘natural grassy’ areas!
There was also a host of various bees galore collecting pollen on the tiny Searsia flowers.


Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

Rainfall

For such a long time we have had repeated sobering news regarding rainfall. But no more. As can be seen from the graph the rainfall for the first quarter of 2018 is not only way ahead of the same period in 2017 (actually it is treble that of 2017), but it is also ahead of the 10 year average for the first quarter. The drought has been broken.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

Rehabilitation of area west of tennis courts

The wonder of nature is that it is always on the move. Even on our relatively small area we witness many ongoing changes - some positive, some negative.

A worrisome change in the area west of the tennis courts is the way alien invasive species are crowding out the indigenous plants. In recent weeks we commenced the removal of Sword fern (Nephrolepsis cordifolia) that are classified as Alien cat. 1B. In terms of legislation these may not be owned and need to be removed. They are found on the one hectare area west of the tennis courts which is characterized by a large number of other aliens and is also suffering from over expansive shrubbery mainly Searsia (Rhus) species. We plan to remove all Aliens Cat 1B so that “fynbos” and other local plants can naturally regenerate. Along Links Drive there is also dense bush that needs to be thinned.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

We have commissioned Rudi Minnie of Credo Environmental Services to prepare an environmental restoration plan for the area including:
  • choice and use of herbicides
  • thinning out of Searsia and other over expansive species.
Rudi is an experienced environmentalist operating along the Garden Route compiling environmental management, alien control and rehabilitation plans. Prior to starting his own consultancy business he worked for Cape Nature & Department of Environmental Affairs.

Full provision for consultancy fees have been included in our current budget and your trustees have agreed that the massive restoration costs can be funded from our Contingency Reserve which at 30 September 2017 amounted to R73000.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

Nature Reserve Classification

Progress on the formal recognition of the Reserve as a Nature Reserve is still being pursued, but as previously advised the Municipal re-zoning process is painfully slow. As an alternative we have been invited by SANParks to attend a workshop to explore the feasibility of Steenbok, and others similar organisations, being granted protected area status within an already protected area such as the Knysna Protected Area. David Stromberg representing LIRA and Esther Townsend and Roger Voysey will be attending this full day session.

Maintenance

Garden services continue to be efficiently provided by Ivy Garden Services as does grass cutting and garden rubbish removal by Knysna Municipality. A number of Friends continue to attend to many maintenance and other issues on a regular basis and our thanks are extended to them all for their diligent service.

After many years of service the irrigation pump and control boxes were replaced and where necessary individual sprinkler points repositioned. The overall cost was R16000. The system operates mainly at night supplying spike water to 17 distribution points feeding 60 sprinkler heads.

The pump garden was recently upgraded to a delightful stopping off point.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

Problem Areas

Unfortunately over the Christmas period there was a serious case of vandalism where memorial and tree name signs in one of the tree copses were up-rooted. 25 tree signs were later found a long distance away but the memorial signs were never found. There have also been cases of plants in the gardened areas being up-rooted and it was necessary to erect signs requesting that flowers and seed of our special Brunsvigia orientalis be left untouched; to encourage regeneration in future years.

The public survey conducted in April and May 2017 highlighted strengths and weaknesses and suggestions on how the Reserve can be improved. There are three significant areas which continue to be problematical and where we again appeal to all users.
  • Please use the poo bags supplied to retrieve your dog’s poos and deposit same in the many dog litter bins provided. This can only be successful if you keep your dog in sight - don’t be one of those who walk ahead of your dog pretending that you don’t see him dropping! From our side we have installed more bins and employ weekly labour to collect the dirt.
  • Although we welcome dogs not on leads we ask our visitors to control their dogs especially if there is any sign of apparent aggression. Please realise and accept that there are many folk who have had bad and unforgettable experiences and who are genuinely frightened of dogs.
  • Please join the growing movement to pick up paper, plastics and other litter even if it is not yours. A special thanks to a dedicated group of residents who are now collecting litter left by others and especially by fisher people. Additional bins are being installed at Kingfisher Creek and, with the help of LIRA, attempts are being made to improve the municipal emptying of bins and disposal of contents.
As previously advised Management resists the introduction of plethora of rules to cover these attitudes and appeals to all to respect the long-time practices of fishers, walkers, golfers, walkers with dogs, cyclists and joggers.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

Public Toilet Facilities

The Public Toilets within the grounds of Leisure Isle Boat Club are now being used by many visitors to the Reserve and continue to be serviced by the Club to a high standard. A further upgrade to ensure all weather protection has recently been completed.

Promotional Activities

Our Facebook site continues to be superbly managed by Di Stromberg. By going to www.facebook.com/steenboknaturereserve Friends and other interested folk are kept up to date on developments and happenings in the Reserve. All are encouraged to access this facility. Letty Bensley who recently was appointed to our management committee is supporting Di with this and other activities.

Like us on Facebook

In November last year we were again privileged to be nominated as a beneficiary of the Leisure Isle Festival. From our stall we presented the results of the popular Steenbok photographic competition and sold second editions of Shared Recipes. Significant funds were earned and enabled us to support Pledge Nature Reserve with a donation in support of their post fire rehabilitation.

Di and Sue Thomopoulos are hard at work preparing a kiddies illustrated Steenbok booklet and are hoping to launch this later in the year, possibly at the Leisure Isle Festival. This is a most exciting educational project which we believe will be of interest to all our schools. We are currently selling attractive licence disc holders as well as the popular Shared Recipes.

Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust

As mentioned in our previous newsletter we plan to enhance http://www.steenboknaturereserve.org.za with a more sophisticated data base system that will facilitate the update of ever changing information and incorporate sophisticated search facilities. The latter will be useful in the identification of plant and other species. S2Web, our website administrators, will soon introduce the new data base software and the massive task of transferring data to the new system will begin. Provision for these cost have been made in our latest budget.

Finances

The financial position is sound with reserves more than sufficient to meet outgoings for more than the next 12 months. In the year ended 30 September 2017 income exceeded operating expenses by R25252 whilst membership fees increased by R21 327. This increase is largely due to new members who joined following our successful visitors survey. A small surplus is budgeted for the current financial year.

Many of our members have taken advantage of our recognition as a Public Benefit Organisation under section 18A(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act. This enables our donors to claim deduction of amounts donated from their taxable income. Thanks to our treasurer James Botha who administers the “paper work” most efficiently.

Frequency and distribution of newsletters

Now that our Facebook site has developed to a high standard, and is publishing Steenbok news at least three times a week, the frequency of our newsletters will be reduced to two issues a year. Newsletters will continue to be distributed by email to members and posted to our website. Paper issues will cease but copies will be displayed on notice boards.

Members of the Trust, Management Committee & Auditors for year.

Trustees
Keith Hollis (Chairman), James Botha (Treasurer), Peter Godsell (member’s representative), Charles Breen, Roger Voysey, and Clr. Mark Willemse.

Management Committee :
Maretha Alant, Letty Bensley, Charles Breen, Joclyn Fearon, Peter Godsell, Arjen Meter, David Stromberg, Diana Stromberg, Esther Townsend, Roger Voysey (Manager), Clr. Mark Willemse

Michaelides Parker Kretzmann Inc continue as auditors providing an excellent service