Friends make a difference as they restore Rondebosch Common

Friends of Rondebosch Common’s, restoration and conservation project manager Alex Landsdowne with an Erica plant which is classified as being extinct in the wild.
Friends of Rondebosch Common’s, restoration and conservation project manager Alex Landsdowne plants an Erica plant which is part of the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos vegetation type.
Sivumo Zibaya assists with the restoration planting at the Rondebosch Common
A section of the Rondebosch Common that was burnt earlier this year

New plant species were planted at the Rondebosch common on Friday as part of a global restoration project to commemorate World Environmental Day which was marked on Saturday June 5.

The restoration project was part of the Society for Ecosystem Restoration (SER) Global Campaign which saw people across the world taking part in restoration activities during “Make a difference week” from June 5 to June 12.

In support of the initiative, Friends of Rondebosch Common (FoRC) gathered to plant new threatened species on a large area of the common, which burned earlier this year.

They also cleared the invasive plants on the site which can now allow for more natural fynbos vegetation to return to the site.

FoRC restoration and conservation project manager Alex Landsdowne said: “Entering into the winter season is a good time to do rehabilitation planting. The fires that occurred earlier this year burned a quarter of Rondebosch Common. The fires in Cape Town are however natural occurrences because fynbos is meant to burn.

“We have been clearing alien invasive plants and grass in the whole burnt area. A total of 1000 square metres will be re-planted,” he said.

Mr Landsdowne said global conservation problems can only be effectively dealt with if everyone did their bit.

“All the restoration events taking place across the globe are the same as this, small and community-led. These are the ones that truly make a big difference,” he said.

Mr Landsdowne said the Rondebosch Common Conservation Area was one of the last remnants of critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos where many threatened species could be found.

The Erica, which is classified as extinct in the wild, was also planted at the Rondebosch Common and about 1 000 more will be planted throughout this year. The plan is to plant double that number next year.

Council of Botanical Society of South Africa member Caroline Petersen agreed that big change could be brought about if everyone did something small. “Small groups doing their bit all over the world creates a global movement that eventually adds up. The ‘Make a difference week’ campaign highlights the importance of the environment and enables people to take action which they may not have done.”

Ms Petersen said the restoration of this area would allow for more rainfall to reach the soil which would facilitate more plant growth.

“The more plant species found at the common, can eventually lead to this space being used for plant education for schools and learners,” she said.