FOSTER plans to embark on a project in the Seal Point Nature Reserve around the lighthouse to remove the invasive plant – bitou, that has taken over large areas that were previously covered by fynbos and indigenous plants including grasses. The attached photographs clearly illustrate how this area looked in 1976 and 1978 prior to the take over of bitou and then in 2003 and finally in 2020, which is what it still looks like today.

Bitou is an indigenous plant, however it is very much a weed and tends to proliferate in areas disturbed usually by man. It is very fast growing and quickly develops a thick canopy which then destroys the naturally occurring vegetation as this is starved of sunlight and nutrients. Fortunately, many of the seeds and bulbs lie dormant in the soil and as has been seen in other areas where FOSTER has cleared bitou return to life and begin to flourish in the newly restored environment.

Ensuring that the bitou is removed properly in larger areas requires mechanical intervention such as tractors with brush cullers and the use of a front loader. Due to the high visibility and usage by the community of the area around the lighthouse the uprooted bitou will be removed and disposed of correctly at the Humansdorp dump site.

Once the project is complete it will take some months for the original plant life to return, though FOSTER will assist this by planting the correct indigenous bulbs etc. where practical.

Earlier this year FOSTER cleared a large area of bitou off the Hope Crescent and the positive spin off can already be seen with the spring having started to flow again and o whole host of new plants emerging.

We look forward to restoring this area and recreating the natural environment that existed here before the invasive bitou took over.

(For those interested in the scientific description of what is happening, here it is. The invasion of shrub (Osteospermum monoliferum mid- and foreground) into a species-rich community dominated by fynbos shrubs (Helichrysum teretifolium, Achyranthemum sordescens) and forbs (Indigofera tomentosa, Cotula discolor). The indigofera and everlasting (A. sordescens) are classified as endangered. Original photograph taken by R.M. Cowling in Sep 2003; repeat by Hoffman and Cowling in Feb 2020. Seal Point Nature Reserve, Cape St Francis).

It is planned to commence with this project within the next two weeks.

see also: The FOSTER Jol Incoming – The best party of the year is happening on Saturday