St Francis Kromme Trust


A singular honour was bestowed on Maggie Langlands, a local resident of St Francis Bay, last week. BirdLife South Africa presented her with an “Owl Award” for her outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitat.

In this award ceremony, held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg, BirdLife South Africa acknowledged companies and individuals who donate their time and money to the organisation, which makes it possible to continue all their conservation programmes and projects. Maggie was among companies, captains of industry and well-known personalities to receive this award. Only twelve Owl Awards, one Owlet (for a youngster) and two Eagle-Owl Awards are presented each year from the many nominations nation-wide that are submitted so it is a notable honour for Maggie to have been chosen.

Maggie took it upon herself, and has spent the last five years organizing and motivating a dedicated team of monitors from the local St Francis Bay Bird Club to undertake regular counting of birds potentially affected by the Wind Turbine Farms constructed and under construction in the Kouga Municipal area of the Eastern Cape.

This undertaking is independent of any formal arrangement set up by those directly involved in the Wind Farms.

The species specifically under scrutiny are endangered Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane and White-bellied Korhaan. Other priorities include a large population of Black Harrier, many of the larger raptors – Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Long-crested Eagle – and large migrations of Amur Falcons and White Stork.

With her eye on the future, she has also been instrumental in ensuring that the construction and operating companies involved are aware of their current and prospective environmental obligations and is at present leading an initiative on behalf of the St Francis Kromme Trust to establish a Stewardship Biodiversity Programme with local landowners, farmers, and communities whose land is affected directly or indirectly, by these turbines.

Farmers involved in these initiatives may realise benefits such as increased marketing opportunities, tax benefits and access to support and advice from conservation staff. The Eastern Cape Nature and Tourism Department is fully supporting this endeavour and with Maggie’s assistance and recommendations have appointed a full time Environmental Officer to steer the project.

Maggie paid tribute to her dedicated team of birders who volunteer their time and expertise every six weeks to monitor birds on wind farms. All records are submitted to Birdlife South Africa on a six weekly cycle as well as to the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town.

Owl awards

Article & Photographs supplid by Yvonne Bosman

A tribute to these dedicated folk

Ed and Dusty Elton, the amazing public-spirited St Francis Kromme Trust members who live above the garden and work constantly see to its upkeep for the good of the community.

Spring in all its glory is on show at present in the St Francis Bay Community Garden in Harbour Road, thanks to the efforts of the local residents and the St Francis Links gardeners, who have worked together to save the garden from reverting to a wilderness area.

When Colin Hall moved away from St Francis some years ago, and gardener Jan Coenraad retired, there was no one to run or maintain the garden, and an appeal was made to the community to save it. A collection was started. Some people donated sums of money; others signed a stop order; plants were sold and teas organised at the morning market; and functions were held to raise funds. These funds eventually became depleted and Hilton Thorpe, as Chairman of the St Francis Kromme Trust, took on the task of finding a solution.

Under the auspices of the Kromme Trust, an initiative was launched to save the garden and this involved community participation. A management plan was developed at a meeting between the Trust, the Fourcade Botanical Group and the Dendrological Society. Over the years, various plans were put in operation and thanks to the enthusiasm of members of the St Francis KrommeTrust: the late Bridgette Elton, her husband Ed and son Dusty, the garden has become a real place of beauty and tranquillity. The Eltons are the current custodians of the park and the work they do there is amazing, without any fanfare or fuss.

The little stream that runs through the garden is in full glory at present after the recent rain.

It is remarkable what can be achieved when a community is passionate about something. The St Francis Links also came to the party in recent years and have helped enormously in keeping the lawns cut and paths trimmed. The community owes them, and the Eltons, a huge debt of gratitude.

Many worthwhile indigenous plants have been rescued from development sites by the Fourcade Botanical Group, and relocated there, in order to preserve them. Several of these have been labelled for the convenience of people who wish to identify them, or to plant similar ones. Indigenous species are hardy and require less water; an important factor these days.

Those new to St Francis Bay and locals too, should pay it a visit, especially now in spring. The little stream is running again, frogs are croaking happily, spring flowers are bursting into bloom adding colour to the garden and birds are in full voice attracting mates prior to breeding. Come and enjoy the beauty of this green haven in Harbour Road.

Human-induced change threatens coastal communities future

Written by: Daniel Schroeder

The Cape St Francis/St Francis Bay peninsula rapidly developed over a 50-year period (1961-2014) from a little fishing village into an urban coastal developed area. Human-induced changes to the natural system resulted in more frequent and intense natural events, which ranged from floods to debris flows, resulting in decreased sand supply and beach erosion. From 2013 to 2014 I conducted my Master of Science research on the peninsula. The research involved mapping landscape change over the 50-year period (see map), beach surveying and public participation.

Beach Erosion

Contrary to public perception, the results showed that the Cape St Francis beach has eroded as much as the St Francis Bay beach. Both beaches have lost more than 200 meters with St Francis Bay beach receding by only eight meters more. The natural length of the St Francis Bay beach was shorter than that of Cape St Francis, which is why erosion is more evident in St Francis Bay. In St Francis Bay the beach width was well over 200 meters in 1961 as compared to the present width of below 100 meters; while the beach width in Cape St Francis was 400 meters or more in 1961, compared to the present beach width ranging from 100 to more than 200 meters. Nevertheless, throughout the beach survey period Cape St Francis had a more ‘natural’ look as beach dunes formed, deformed and reformed.

Erosion was most severe after the winter storms where a two meter drop in elevation was seen over most of the St Francis Bay beach. The water at low tide was at the ‘usual’ high water mark (e.g. the revetments). This was the first time during the surveying period that the PEM pipes were exposed. Over the surveying period St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis lost more than ~ 250 000 m3 of beach sand, with St Francis Bay losing slightly more. A previous study by D. Anderson in 2008 estimated a sand loss of ~ 40 000 m3 over a surveying period between September 2006 to September 2007. While beaches naturally experience periods of erosion and deposition, the St Francis Bay area is in a prevailing period of erosion. This system change is a consequence of human activities changing the landscape, especially activities that interrupted sediment supply.

Beach surveys were conducted in 2007 at the request of the Beach Trust. These data were obtained and areas of the beach were resurveyed. The resurveying suggested a period of deposition on the spit beach. In comparison, the St Francis Bay beach continued to erode. The state of the St Francis Bay beach in 2014 was worse than in 2007 with many areas not being resurveyed because of the higher water level. The deposition of the spit beach was, therefore, not attributed to the PEM system, but rather to the textile sand bags placed on the spit beach over the Christmas period of 2013. Erosion is the dominant process in the St Francis Bay area.

Development and dune

Development on the peninsula was a continual process from 1961 onwards. Three ‘boom’ phases occurred, with the first one occurring in the seventies, the second one from the late eighties to the late nineties and the last one from 1999-2009. The latest ‘boom’ phase led to an increase of more than 50 % of the developed area. Furthermore, dune loss was observed during each ‘boom’ phase. An astounding 66 % of mobile sand dune area has been lost on the peninsula since 1961 (see map for dune size decrease). Through aerial photos it was seen that 58 % was lost to vegetation stabilisation and only eight percent was directly lost to urban development (predominately Santareme). The stabilisation of dunes through vegetation and urban development has led to a decrease in sediment supply to the beaches, which are currently being eroded.

A unique, complex and dynamic system that was fully functioning prior to the human-induced landscape changes was transformed, resulting in more frequent ‘natural events’. Through the development phases, dune stabilisation became a prevalent issue cutting off the beach nourishment supply, which led to the erosion of the beaches. Through the stabilisation process, dunefields were not only significantly diminished but also completely lost, as seen in the case of the Santareme Dunefield. Through human interference with the Sand River, an unpredictable and unmanageable system was created. This became particularly evident through the frequent flooding as well as the collapse of the Sand River Bridge, which caused isolation from the rest of South Africa. Although beaches are eroding throughout the peninsula, it is St Francis Bay and the surrounding areas that are mostly threatened by these changes. Long-term adaptive management strategies need to be put in place in order to find a state of equilibrium whereby a balance is found between the socioeconomic and ecological factors by learning from the past and moving forward.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the questionnaire survey and interviews and to everyone who was so kind as to provide their personal photographs, newspaper clippings, aerial images, and related information regarding the peninsula. To access my Master of Science, please follow the link provided for a PDF copy:

Map showing landscape change for the peninsula from 1961-2011 (Schroeder, 2014).