Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

Jan 13, 2024 | General News

by Linda Fletcher

To celebrate the end of another successful work year the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) hosted a memorable year end function in the form of a “kaskar rally” race for the organisation’s Restoration Teams, who are responsible for vital restoration work in the in Gouritz River and Langeberg region (Riversdale-Herbertsdale-Ruiterbos). The work of the Restoration Teams, under the Gouritz Resilient Rivers Project, mainly focuses on the removal and management of invasive alien plants (IAP’s) like Black Wattle. IAP’s pose a major threat in the area, especially in the context of water scarcity, increased fire risk and loss of biodiversity.

The GCBR has developed strong partnerships with 4 local contractors from the community who, together with their teams, have been working in environmental restoration since 2019. These teams are led by Louw Willemse, Jacobus Vaaltyn, André Goliath, and Pierre Kellies, who altogether employ 43 people.

At the end of each year the GCBR Programme Manager, Rita Liebenberg, organises different, fun and competitive activities for these four contractor teams to compete for the GCBR Cup and bragging rights. Rita was assisted by Mark Jantjies, GCBR’s Field Manager and Programme Assistant and GCBR’s 4 Groen Sebenza Interns; Leila, Lee-Ann, Nelisiwe and Yaaseen.

For the 2023 challenge, the teams had to build their own boxcar, create a team theme and name. For the first time a GCBR team would enter the competition despite knowing that their “engine” would never be able to compete with the fitness levels of the restoration teams who are active in field all year round.

This end-of-year event was held at the Riversdale Sports Ground and was jampacked with excitement, teamwork, laughter and great sportsmanship. The teams competed in various speed and agility tests, and were also judged on the appearance and functionality of their boxcar as well as their theme and team spirit.  

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

The results of the competition were:

1st: The Ghost Riders (André Goliath’s team – they have won the GCBR cup in 2021 and 2023)

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

2nd: The Bumblebees (Louw Willemse’s team – they have won the GCBR cup in 2022)

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

3rd: Die Wilde Honde (Pierre Kellies’s team – they won the GCBR cup in 2019)

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

4th: Blitzbokkies (Jacobus Vaaltyn’s team)

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

5th: MadMax (GCBR)

Restoration Teams race for the GCBR Cup

Mark dressed up as Father Christmas and, together with his little elves, handed out gifts to everyone as a small token of appreciation for the dedication these individuals put into the important work they do.

As the restoration project manager and event organiser Rita conveyed, with gratitude, the following acknowledgements:

“I would like to thank each team member for all their hard work throughout the year, it has been a privilege to work with you.A special thank you to The contractors (die manne); Pierre Kellies, Louw Willemse, Andre Goliath, Jacobus Vaaltyn for your spirit, resourcefulness and commitment. To the GCBR staff (Marinda, Linda, Kezia, Louis, Andre, Leila, Lee-Ann, Nelisiwe, Yasseen, Nikki & Riette), thank you for helping with set up, time-keeping and cheerleading. Without all of you the day would not have been a success. Tothe Judges Dr Arnel Huisamen (Director), Giel Huisamen and Dr Steve Du Toit (CEO) for contributing their time and enthusiasm; and last but not least, Mark Jantjies (right-hand man/partner in crime), thank you for always being up for any challenge, for your dedication and making it fun!”

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