City clears invasive trees on greenbelt

Councillor Liz Brunette with present and past Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts river wardens Mike Picker and Anne Mayne with Scruffy.

The City’s recreation and parks department is clearing invasive black alder trees from the Doordrift greenbelt.

Doordrift is one of 12 recognised greenbelt walks in the Constantia valley. It stretches from Stodels in Doordrift Road past the back of Norman Henshilwood High School, ending at the M3 turn-off near Zonnestraal farm.

On Thursday April 15, ward councillor Liz Brunette and past and present Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts (FoCVG) river wardens Anne Mayne and Mike Picker went to see the extent of the tree cutting. River wardens are FoCVG volunteers who monitor and report problems, such as fallen trees and overflowing sewers, to the relevant authorities.

Ms Mayne said the area had in the past become a dumping ground for human waste, furniture, discarded condoms, empty alcohol bottles, drug paraphernalia, copper wire and more.

Professor Picker, author of Exploring the Megadiverse Insect Life of South Africa, said the clearing programmes by the City had helped to keep the greenbelt virtually free of vagrants and criminals.

“They lived under the cover provided by the trees, making the greenbelt unsafe to walk. In addition, the river, which used to be choked and shaded out by the black alder forests, is now flowing strongly, and is recovering its health now that aquatic plants have colonised – these plants have mopped up the excessive nutrients and are now providing habitat for the riverine animals that used to inhabit the river before it became ecologically sterilised by the black alders.”

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the work was a continuation of a project started in 2018 when there had been frequent reports of assaults and robberies in the area.

Residents, FoCVG, the Constantia ratepayers, Ms Brunette and the recreation and parks department had all agreed that the invasive black alders would be removed to improve visibility and safety, he said.

“Conservation of this greenbelt is important as it’s an ecological corridor that connects the river at its source on Table Mountain to the sea at Zandvlei estuary. These ecological corridors allow fauna and flora to freely move up and down the corridor while providing opportunities for recreation and environmental education,” he said.

He added: “It’s essential that the rivers are kept clear of invasive alien vegetation and debris in order to prevent blockages resulting in the flooding of the surrounding areas. Erosion and sedimentation must also be carefully controlled and mitigated, while pollution needs to be minimised and effectively prevented.”

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