Landscape Lab 2016: Innovative Thinking To Facilitate Idea Generation In Saving Water - News | DEA&DP

Landscape Lab 2016: Innovative Thinking To Facilitate Idea Generation In Saving Water

23 November 2016

The Landscape Lab Conference, held in partnership with and co-sponsored by #CoCreateSABerg River Partnership, Stellenbosch River Collaborative, Living Lands and our Department (DEA&DP) took place on 22 and 23 November at The Retreat at Boschendal Estate.

Over a period of two days, this uniquely designed workshop created a space to celebrate the successes experienced of our landscapes and addressed the obstacles faced from new angles, by working better together on forming action plans to strengthen our impacts.

Through positive dialogue and active listening, delegates shared knowledge, prototyping and networked with colleagues and peers. The workshop was based on a reflective and conversational nature, allowing the conference to run in retreat style which promotes quality knowledge sharing, and stimulate new strategies moving forward.

Jason Mingo, Task Manager for the Berg River Improvement project, DEA&DP has this to say about the experience: “The value of such an event is the time being made available to engage and interact on a more personal level with people we work with across the various spheres and departments of government, as well as meeting like-minded individuals who have a shared passion for problem solving and strong partnerships.”

The conference highlighted a number of projects taking place in the area. Delegates were invited to go on a “Learning Journey” which entailed site visits at the following projects:

Eerste River Rehabilitation

Wildlands is the Implementing Agent for the Stellenbosch River Stewardship Action (Municipality) on behalf of the Stellenbosch Trail Fund (custodians) of 3 sections of the Eerste River.  Alien clearing, as well as pollution and vagrant control of sections of the river commenced in April 2016 from where the river enters the town up until the confluence with the Plankenbrug River.

Plankenbrug River Rehabilitation and Green Filter

Since July 2014, Wildlands has been committed to invasive alien clearing of the Plankenbrug river as well as the adjacent Papegaaiberg Nature Reserve.  Employees reside from the adjoining Kayamandi/Enkanini township.  Each year, 4 - 8 environmental education interventions are conducted in this community. The Wildlands Trees for Life program, enable local community members to grow indigenous trees at homestead level and is then bartered back to Wildlands for livelihood support.

The Genius of SPACE Site visit, Langrug

Langrug is an informal settlement located just outside the affluent town of Franschhoek. The settlement is home to about 6 000 residents, many of whom are unemployed.

Wastewater from domestic use flows down the roads, combining with solid waste, and forms a toxic sludge. The wastewater from the Langrug settlement goes into stormwater and ends up in the Berg river, which is an important source of irrigation water for the farms in the area, and therefore to the socio-economic development and ecological health of the region.

Many residents are exposed to this wastewater sludge (especially children), and therefore to disease and toxins. The Western Cape government is piloting some low-tech infrastructure for the management of greywater, stormwater and solid waste in the informal settlement. The project is based on biomimicry principles and ecological engineering – looking for natural solutions to solving human challenges.

Pearl Valley Restoration

The western river bank forms part of the Pearl Valley Golf and Country Estate and the eastern bank is used for agriculture. Land along both banks of the river is privately owned. On site there is active rehabilitation taking place alongside alien clearing. There are examples of erosion along the river's banks and gabions for control thereof.

Enkanini Water Hustlers

The Enkanini Water Hustlers, “Changing the Flow” pilot project, was launched in March 2016 in an attempt to follow the DUCT Enviro Champs water and sanitation monitoring programme from KZN.

Living Lands in partnership with Isidima Design and Development have engaged with a small group of young women and men from Enkanini to monitor and record water and sanitation issues in the community to feed back to the Stellenbosch Municipality. Focus has been placed on blocked and overflowing manholes, leaking taps and the toilet blocks. The project has offered numerous training opportunities for the volunteers on water quality monitoring and ecosystem understanding. This project incorporates both complex social dynamics, environmental awareness and stewardship.

Twee Riviere Satellite Nursery

As part of developing a greater sense of water stewardship, the satellite nurseries have played a critical role in empowering local landowners to support the efforts of actively rehabilitating the riparian zones of the Berg River. The site visit will showcase the requirements for the nursery and link to a visit of an active rehabilitation site.

Simonsberg Conservancy Rehabilitation after fire: Uitkyk Farm

The clearing of Wattles, Gums and Blackwoods in Jakhalskloof began in February 2015. Since then, a massive fire took place in January 2016 January 2016 on the whole of the Simonsberg Mountain including the kloof.  Since then follow-up treatments were given and spring brought Renosterveld and Fynbos showing its beauty.  

Jim Fouche Historical Park

Standing at the crossing of the R45, with the railway track and the Berg River, the road curves to make way for the Jim Fouché Park stretching out along the riverside. It could be regarded as the main entrance to the Franchhoek Valley. This site is also roughly the point where streams coming down from the Berg River Dam, the Franchhoek Valley and the Wemmershoek Dam merge to continue as one. It is a significant site in the landscape and has the potential to become, yet again, attractive and meaningful to the Franchhoek Valley.

The revitalisation of the Jim Fouché Park has the potential to aid in;

  • conserving threatened palmiet wetlands,
  • creating a conservation corridor
  • initiating sustainable green socio-economic opportunities

The hope is to co-create and implement a vision for the Jim Fouché Park that will protect and manage the surrounding wetland, rehabilitate the natural vegetation in the area and protect the river, while creating a dynamic space with employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Water Hub

The Western Cape Government in partnership with Stellenbosch Municipality are proposing the redevelopment of the site of the old Franschhoek Wastewater Treatment Works.  This initiative aims to establish a research, technology demonstration and skills development centre focussed on advancing knowledge of how nature can clean polluted water and restore the health of our rivers. As part of the project conferencing facilities and associated infrastructure will be established for up to 300 attendees.

Boschendal Wine Estate Re-Vegetation

Initially, the invasive plants on the estate was managed by Boshendal and is now being co-managed with Department of Environmental Affairs. This site has undergone clearing and palmiet planting with the emphasis on increasing the biodiversity that has been lost.

After the learning journeys had taken place, each group shared their experiences, challenges and solutions with each other. An important lesson being conveyed was on the value of introspection and taking the time to slow down and reassess the work being done.  

Landscape Lab