In a hack on Saturday 13 March, west of Bergfontein in the Langeberg mountains, we took on an aggressive Australian invader, hakea sericea, which is threatening extensive Mountain Fynbos biodiversity and water resources. The hack had an excellent turnout of 28 volunteers, which included 8 MCSA members, 2 visitors, the landowner Theresa Assad and her neighbour Chris Davies, together with 16 additional volunteers who Chris and Theresa had persuaded to join. Most of us spent the Friday night in Chris’ wonderful mountain campsite on the Romanskraal farm, and at 07h00 on Saturday we gathered for a briefing then drove across to the hakea site, 12km to the east.
From our starting point we split into five teams, each covering different portions of our target area, which varied according to the roughness of terrain and distance needing to be covered, i.e. something doable for everyone!
In the end, a 74 ha area of fairly steep ridges and valleys was cleared of hakea, mainly as widely scattered individual plants but also in some small clumps. A conservative estimate is that at least 2 600 young hakea trees and saplings were cleared, which involved plenty of sweating in what turned out to be a glorious but hot and humid morning. The groups finished between 12h00 and 14h00, depending on their distance away, level of determination and energy levels. Then, after allowing for some brief recovery at the starting point after a tough but enjoyable hack, it was back to Romanskraal for a well-deserved cooling off in a mountain pool and an evening braai in the magnificent mountain setting. On Sunday the rain arrived at first light, and so any plans of mountain walking for the day were deferred for next time.
After the hack, Theresa Assad expressed her sincere appreciation and thanks to everyone who participated, which was great to hear (anyone wanting to contact her for possible future informal hacks, her number is 0834142639). It is also encouraging to know that in the downstream areas, the Gourtiz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, who are based in Riversdale, have recently engaged with landowners to encourage control of invasive alien plants in the foothills, where black wattle is currently a major problem. And so our efforts on the day helped contribute to a bigger-picture initiative in the wider catchment.
Saturday 13 March 2020 by Donovan Kotze
Photos courtesy of Theresa Assad