The Alphen greenbelt was alive with song and laughter on Sunday when volunteers cleared trees, bridges and fences of alien ivy.
Precious Malete, project manager of international volunteer group ASEZ WAO (“Save the Earth from A to Z”, and “We Are One Family”) of the World Mission Society Church of God, said they had planned to plant trees but had changed tack after seeing an article in the Bulletin about Sue van der Walt’s efforts to remove ivy in the greenbelt after noting how it was smothering plants and everything else in its path (“Ivy smothering greenbelts,” Bulletin October 28).
Fay Howa, from the City’s recreation and parks department, told Ms Malete that volunteers were needed to clear the invasive ivy which can retard the growth and lifespan of native trees and fuel fires.
Ms Malete said she had discovered that the Cape floral kingdom – one of six floral kingdoms in the world – had the highest species diversity and fynbos was important in carbon recycling and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So the group changed its focus to a “save a tree” campaign, and 40 volunteers spent two hours on Sunday clearing the ivy, which they stuffed into more than 80 bags.
“Being with the group was like no other event I’ve experienced,” said Ms Van der Walt. “They were singing as they carried the bags to the collection area. The new deputy mayor arrived, made a speech and stayed for quite a while. He was so impressed with the idea of clearing the greenbelt of ivy that he has promised us that he will arrange with the council for us to receive equipment.”
Deputy mayor Eddie Andrews, who is also Ward 73’s councillor and mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said he had joined the group to stress the importance of caring for the environment. “As a City, we believe in making progress possible together. We can’t do that without your support as well, so thank you,” he told the volunteers.
Ms Malete said the group had held volunteer activities around the country, collecting rubbish in four provinces and had visited hospitals, including Medi Clinic Constantia, to deliver snacks and thank-you notes to health-care workers for their efforts during the pandemic (“Caring for the carers,” Bulletin July 8).