FOSTER Update

 

 

The reserve management team have been deployed to the Cape St Francis Reserve for further alien clearing in the last few weeks. When walking the trails one may well feel that the reserve is alien free, but if one wonders of the beaten track into one of the valleys one realizes that the alien problem is far from mastered and will take the team most of winter to clear.

 

There are two fund raising events for FOSTER coming up:-

 

Dr Carla Dodd from Nelson Mandela University will be giving a talk at the Cape St Francis Resort on the 14th of May at 17h00 titled “Our Wildside Pools a Window to 3.5 Billion Years of Life” as a fund raiser for FOSTER. There will be an entrance fee of R75 and Dr Gavin Rishworth will also be in attendance. This will be a fascinating presentation and will allow us to see these pools in a very different light in the future when we understand their significance and role they play in our eco system.

The FOSTER Jol is back on the 1st of June at the Cape St Francis Resort, themed Cowboys & Indians with two local bands set to rock the house, Ghost Riders will open and will be followed by On the Rocks, whilst the Jason from the resort will be providing suitable pooitjies to keep your energy levels up. Tickets available at the resort or on Quicket, R300 for adults and R150 for kids, which includes food. So come in your best Western attire and prepare to party.

Regards

Emeritus Professor Richard Cowling’s fascinating talk to video – “Not planning with Nature: Vulnerability of Greater St Francis Region to storms”

After the FOSTER AGM on 2 April, Emeritus Professor Richard Cowling, one of the founders of FOSTER and previous chair and now portfolio committee member responsible for reserve management gave a fascinating talk titled “Not planning with Nature: Vulnerability of Greater St Francis Region to storms” which is now available on YouTube.

The Greater St Francis Region comprises several coastal settlements that have been planned not by considering nature’s patterns and processes but by violating them. Shifting sand dunes have been stabilized to accommodate holiday homes, wetlands have been drained to build a marina and suburbs laid out in the path of massive, flood-induced water flows. This has made the region extremely vulnerable to obvious impacts of climate warming, namely sea-level rise and higher and more intense storm incidence. How did this happen and what can we learn from this?

FOSTER AGM 2024

FOSTER AGM 2024

FOSTER AGM – 2 April 2024

FOSTER held its AGM at the Cape St Francis Resort on Tuesday 2 April in front of a large audience which were also there to listen to a fascinating talk by Emeritus Prof Cowling titled: -“Not planning with Nature: Vulnerability of the greater St Francis region to storm damage”.

Below are the highlights extracted from the FOSTER AGM 2024 report of the Chairman – Matt Gennrich..

He welcomed the attendees with a quote from Nathanial Hawthorn’s that “Time flies over us but leaves its shadow behind” after commenting  that being involved with FOSTER is mostly fun, but as with everything in life there are some challenging moments and not everyone always likes what or how we do things at FOSTER, He thanked the committee for their commitment and hard work emphasisng that they share the same vision and passion for the reserves and believe in what they are doing and why. He then introduced and welcomed the new committee members, Denis da Silva, Malcolm Divine, and Shirley Cowling, as well as Errol Burman from Rotary Nita Claassen was not available for reelection.

“Dave Bowmer, our reserve manager deserves special thanks as he and his small team work tirelessly to improve and maintain the trails in the reserves whilst continuing to clear aliens, a never-ending task. It is with sadness however, that I must advise that one of Dave’s team members, Luvuyo Neti or Chris, passed away at the beginning of this year. Our sincere condolences to his family. He is missed on the team. Lwandisa Balimane (or Jerry) has joined the team and is fast learning the ropes.

Shipwreck Display

We also have Dave Bowmer to thank for the shipwreck display in the Anchor Garden at the entrance of Cape St Francis. Thank you to the Cape St Francis Civics, Lighthouse Construction, and the Rotary Club of St Francis for your financial and in-kind contribution.

Another special thanks must go to Wentzel Coetzer, from Conservation Outcomes, for getting FOSTER to the finishing line to complete the process of proclamation of what will be known as the Greater Irma Booysen Nature reserve. This will include the Irma Booysen, Seal Point and Seal Bay Reserves and after one more public participation meeting is held and concluded successfully, the MEC responsible should sign the proclamation document.

The Irma Booysen Flora Reserve will then be formally declared as a Nature Reserve in terms of Section 23 of NEM: Protected Areas Act (No. 57 of 2003) by notice in the provincial Government Gazette. The land is owned by the KM which is responsible for its management. All protected areas/nature reserves/national parks are proclaimed in terms of this legislation. In this sense, all have the same legal status. However, in terms of ecological diversity, our reserves can’t compete with a national park, which must fulfil many requirements to be declared as such.

A last requirement once the reserve is proclaimed is that a management plan needs to  be compiled and submitted to the MEC’s office. We have already had one public meeting and Richard has completed a draft plan which is with Conservation Outcomes for comment and input. The next step is to have another public meeting for comment on the draft plan and the then finalisation of the plan.

FOSTER AGM 2024 – Climate Change

For anyone who doubted the reality of climate change, 2023 should have convinced even the most ardent sceptic of its certainty.  September saw a particularly massive storm which saw waves lapping at the fence of the lighthouse. Most of our paths on the Wildside were severely affected with serious damage on the section from Queen of the West Boulevard to Sunset Rocks. Thank you to Rotary and the Hempel family for their generous contributions which funded the repairs.

As mentioned earlier we have received nominations for new committee members and except for Nita, all the current members are available for re-election. The meeting accepted the  committee for 2024 which apart from the 3 new members remains the same.”

Port Folio Reports

Reserve and Fire-Reduction ManagementRichard Cowling

FOSTER manages the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve, the Seal Bay Nature Reserve, the Seal Point Nature Reserve (all Municipal) and the (Provincial) Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve, which together comprise approximately 330 ha natural habitat. FOSTER’s core management tasks are the removal of alien regrowth, removal of indigenous problem plants (mainly bitou) in key biodiversity areas, the maintenance of the path network (including litter removal), the maintenance of reserve signage, maintaining system of firebreaks, and keeping the tracks through the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve and in the Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve accessible for fire and other emergency services. In total, FOSTER spent R471 896 on reserve management during 2023, the largest amount since the inception of the organization. A massive thanks to the donors who enabled this (see above for details).

St Francis Bay Cycling Club, Kromme Trust – Trevor Gascoyne

FOSTER’s relationships with the local Cycling Club, Running Club and Kromme Trust continue to strengthen and engagement with them remains robust and positive.

The cycling community’s awareness of the ecological sensitivity of our trails and their adherence to only riding on the demarcated paths has becoming well established and once again there have been minimal transgressions of riders on the “non-cycling” trails. Similarly, there have been no negative incidents between cyclists, walkers and/or runners over the peak season in December.

FOSTER and the Kromme Trust’s relationship remains very strong and collaborative and the representation at each other’s committee meetings helps to maintain and improve quick and easy communication between the parties.

Projects and EventsPaul Nicholson

FOSTER Golf Day

As predicted Saturday the 4th turned out to be a typical St Francis windy day. FOSTER committee member Paul Nicholson, responsible for organising the golf day feared a cancellation or postponement. However, by 06h45 the first of the 110 golfers of the day were getting ready to tee off. An added attraction for playing for playing in the FOSTER Golf Day is of course the amazing prizes that our generous sponsors provide us with, without whom such a golf day would never be the success that it was.

Marketing  – Matt Gennrich 

FOSTER Jol

The second revived FOSTER Jol was held in May 2023, with the Cape St Francis Resort coming to the party in more ways than one and supplying the party goers with an amazing array of potjie curries. The event was again a sell-out with the local popular band, Lions Gate, entertaining the crowd well into the night, ensuring that the dance floor was packed with people to rock-and- roll and boogie to their hearts’ content.  As always, FOSTER is grateful to Anita, Jason, Fasie and the staff of the Resort for supporting not only this event, but also providing the venue for AGM and Committee meetings. The 2024 Jol is in the planning stages.

FOSTER has  been able to build a good relationship with Rotary who are an amazing group of people and are able to raise large funds for our local community which fortunately also includes environmental projects. Our very generous anonymous donor continues to make his annual contribution to the alien removal project as does his group of friends who provide more than half of our annual budget. Many thanks to them for their generosity as well as our other donors. This has been one of the reasons that FOSTER has been able to embark on a step-change approach to our reserve management as outlined in Richard’s report.

Once again, the support received from our local media, who always willingly carry any news submitted by FOSTER, has played a significant role in helping to increase the awareness of FOSTER and a big thank you to Craig Jarvis,  the editor of St Francis Today and Wildside Times as well as  Bev Mortimer from the St Francis Chronicle. Thank you..

Our new WhatsApp Group now has 227 members and allows us to do quick updates and inform people about the work being undertaken in the reserves.

Financial ReportEmily Buchanan

The past three years have seen a vastly expanded FOSTER budget, due to our generous donors, some who give a great deal of money but prefer to remain anonymous. We have seized this opportunity to maintain and improve the reserves, and to provide full-time employment for three local people. We also use local businesses whenever possible, whether to buy supplies or to cart refuse to the tip in Humansdorp.

Our loyal members remain the backbone of our budget, and we are thankful for everyone.  Fundraising is also crucial and doubles as an opportunity for people to get to know FOSTER’s people and mission.

Reserve costs rightly take the lion’s share of our expenditure, with admin costs kept to a bare minimum.

Although our records show a small surplus, we are actually very slightly in the red; 17,050 of the income shown was a deposit made for the previous year’s golf day. So, we need to keep just slightly better control over our budget in the future. We also hope to increase our savings.

Closing

In closing the FOSTER AGM 2024 Matt said, “FOSTER has embarked on a bitou control pilot project with funding from Rotary and if this is successful, we have been promised more funding from other sources too as a lead project for 2024. We will continue with our alien removal project and, of course, the regular maintenance of our trails and managing the fire breaks.

What a privilege it is to be able to live in this part of the world, unless one travels regularly it is easy to forget what a special place this is and why our biodiversity and heritage are worth fighting for and saving for the long term. Standing at the two-bay lookout or one of the viewpoints of the Irma Booysen or just walking along a trail in the Seal Point or Seal Bay reserves one realises what it’s all for and why we need organisations like FOSTER and its volunteers to keep what is rightfully ours for all our community. It remains a mystery why so few people contribute financially to FOSTER when it is so easy to see the results. Thanks to those of you who do – the younger generation and those not yet born will thank you one day”.

The full report can be read on our website at – foster.org.za

FOSTER Update January 2024

Thank you to our residents and visitors alike for treating our reserves with respect and generally obeying the rules. For the first time since I have been involved with FOSTER, we had no incidents and no vandalism during the festive season.

FOSTER Update January 2024

The reserves were certainly well used, no doubt in part due to the inclement weather over the season. Tthe persistent easterlies making our reserves a great place to be and still enjoy the outdoors. It was most pleasant to get and hear about so many compliments about the state of the reserves and our trails and paths. The fact that we managed to repair so much of the storm damage before the season was regularly commented upon. This is of course due to our generous donors, sponsors and core membership. They enable FOSTER to pay the reserve management team to keep the reserves in the pristine state that they are in.

Membership Fees

The committee took the decision late last year to increase the annual family membership to R350 and the single membership to R250. This after many years with no increase. Still less than what the average family would pay for breakfast at one of our local eateries. Please renew your 2024 membership or become a member. Do not wait for a prompt from FOSTER. Details are available on our website foster.org.za.

The Shipwreck Display open house on the 20th of December was well attended at the Anchor Garden and Dave Bowmer, Craig Briggs and others were able to tell some fascinating stories. A highlight was a visit by Helene Masson and her husband Chris who is the daughter of Irma Booysen, who shared some fascinating insights into her mother’s life.

We had a few good animal sightings via our camera traps in the recent weeks as well, including one of a bushbuck being chased by a dog. Whilst we understand that dogs love their walks in the reserves, please either control them or have them on leashes.

The Reserve Management team have already been hard at work and are currently busy in the Seal Point Reserve completing the last of the repair work to damaged trails including the stairs at Sunset Rocks and ongoing maintenance work including the upper cycle trail.

Elke M Update

FOSTER as the custodian of the CAPE St Francis Nature Reserve which includes Shark Point where the fishing Trawler the ELKE M ran aground on the 6th of January, have been very involved and included in operations committee dealing with the salvage and cleanup operation of the wreck site. I can only say that the team headed by SAMSA, are incredibly professional and know exactly what they are doing. Our community owes them a debt of gratitude for averting what could have been an environmental disaster on our doorstep.

Operations are at times hampered by weather and sea conditions but over 24 700 litres of fuel and pollutants as well as all the loose fishing crates, nets etc. that could pose a threat to bird and marine life or cause pollution have been removed, either by helicopter or the vessels assisting in the operation.

FOSTER Update January 2024

The helicopter operations are complete and until the next steps are finalised around the wreck removal the support vessels will monitor the ELKE M for any pollution or loose flotsam and act accordingly. The expected worsening weather conditions will prevent any further operations being undertaken in the next few days. Spillages clean up equipment remains on the Meisi which is on standby and further equipment is stored and available for immediate use in the port.

FOSTER has several priorities and projects for 2024 and we will continue to report on these including the finalisation of the proclamation of the greater IRMA Booysen Nature Reserve.

Academy of Science Gold Medal for Mandela University’s Professor Richard Cowling

Academy of Science Gold Medal for Mandela University’s Professor Richard Cowling

Reasons to be Proud. Distinguished Professor in Botany Richard Cowling has received a Gold Medal from the ASSAf Academy of Science. This is the apex award of the Academy and the South African science system. Furthermore, the award was in recognition of outstanding achievements by individuals.

Outstanding Achievement

Up to two gold medals are awarded per annum for outstanding achievement in scientific thinking for the benefit of society. This year, The other medal was awarded to Prof Glenda Gray. She is the first female South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) president and an NRF A-rated scientist.

Prof Richard Cowling is a respected academic par excellence and an exemplary champion of biodiversity conservation. Also, a phenomenal mentor and an inspiration and friend to many.

Academy of Science Gold Medal

Prof Cowling’s internationally recognised research in plant diversity and evolution, conservation science, restoration ecology and paleoecology has been ground-breaking and significant, contributing to theory and firmly embedded in practice.

Furthermore, his well-recognised body of work includes over 400 peer-reviewed contributions, including many in top journals. Also, a feature on ISI’s 250 most highly cited researchers in Ecology & Environment (2005), has led to global recognition.

Foreign Member of the USA National Academy of Sciences

Amongst other accolades, he has an NRF A-rating spanning five evaluation periods from 1998 to 2021. Further, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the USA National Academy of Sciences – one of only nine South Africans to receive such an honour.

Such impact, while globally relevant, has remained true to its core purpose – having profoundly influenced the protection of South Africa’s vibrant biological diversity.

Read the full article here: https://news.mandela.ac.za/…/Academy-of-Science-Gold…

See also: Shipwreck Display – Learn more on Wednesday 20th December from 08h00