Restoring Cape Town’s fynbos splendour

This garden is located between the Liesbeeck River and Huis Luckhoff, a home for the aged.
Rosebank residents have started this indigenous garden on a patch of ground that had been used for illegal dumping.

A Rosebank couple are teaching people how to restore indigenous vegetation in their neighbourhoods.

Frances Taylor and her partner, Paul Hoekman, started the non-profit organisation, Communitree, which runs classes on fynbos restoration. The classes are free for residents of Woodstock, Salt River and Athlone.

Ms Taylor, an urban fynbos rehabilitation ecologist, said she and Mr Hoekman had started Communitree five years ago to help people do more to protect the environment.

“We focus on urban spaces because that’s where most people experience nature. This is also where there is the highest need for healthy green spaces to be restored.”

The course teaches people how to grow fynbos in their gardens or in abandoned public spaces across the city.

“We, in the tiny area of the Western Cape, have our own unique type of plant that occurs nowhere else in the world,” Ms Taylor said. “Fynbos plants and their ecosystem are perfectly suited to surviving in the harsh conditions of Cape Town. They do a lot to support us by simply being able to clean the air and water without much effort from us.”

Urban sprawl had removed a lot of the original fynbos, she said.

“We have lost a number of species over the last decades, and each species we lose is a blow to the strength of our ecosystem.”

Visit www.communitree.in to sign up for the fynbos classes.