Fire update


After all the hard work done to prepare for the planned ecological burn on Meadowridge Common in early 2020 that included the removal of poles and signposts, strategies to safeguard several honeybee nests, local public talks and the distribution of information letters, the Covid pandemic and a local resident’s objection to possible smoke inhalation, meant that the deadline was missed and the fire never took place. However, it has been re-scheduled for autumn 2022.

A poster has been created by the Friends of Meadowridge Common for display on the Common, to inform visitors about why this ecological intervention is vital for the health of the Common, and what progress has been made. It can be downloaded here.

Rising to the biodiversity challenge

Meadowridge Common's 'flagship' flower, the critically endangered Flats Silkypuff (Diastella proteoides

In the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2021, Cape Town pipped Hong Kong and Houston at the post to clock up the most observations (71 142) and species (4 766) of over 150 participating cities throughout the world. And this despite the fact that its not a very floriferous season in Cape Town! Many of the observations came from Meadowridge Common - and a big thank you to everyone who participated. For more on the project, click here. 

Beetles on Senecio burchellii



Join us for the AGM Under the Trees

The AGM of the Friends of the Meadowridge Common will be on held on Saturday, March 20, at 5 Faraday Way, Meadowridgeat 10 a.m. To observe social distancing, it will be held outdoors. It will consist of reports from the past year, and the way ahead.

AGENDA    

Welcome & apologies
Confirmation of Minutes of 2020 AGM
Chairman’s Report
Botanical Report
Financial Report
Election of office bearers.
Tea
under the trees


Restoration plans for the Common


Roger Graham, Chairman of the Friends of Meadowridge Common, with speaker, Dr Charmaine Oxtoby.
At the  AGM of the Friends of Meadowridge Common on 24 February 2020, Dr Charmaine Oxtoby gave a talk on the proposed ecological burn on Meadowridge Common, an exciting plan to restore the critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos that is fast dying out on the Common. This is a co-operative venture involving The Friends of Meadowridge Common (represented by the Chairman Roger Graham and Botanical Officer Fiona Watson), the City of Cape Town Recreation & Parks Department (Sihle Jonas, Luyanda Mjuleni and Fay Howa),  the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management Branch (Charmaine Oxtoby and her team), SANBI’s  Millennium Seed Bank  and the City Fire and Rescue Services.

Why does the Common need a fire? 
There is just 10% left of the critically endangered veld type, Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, that only occurs in Cape Town and nowhere else. Like all fynbos – which is fire-prone and fire-dependent – it needs to burn otherwise it will gradually die. The ideal time for a burn is every ten to twelve years. Meadowridge Common contains a small remnant (5,39 hectares) of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos where some 137 different plant species have been recorded. The Common is a Biodiversity Agreement Site, but it is degraded due to a long history of pines and lack of fire – apart from a small wildfire in December 2003. After years of motivating for a fire, the time has finally come and a restoration burn has been planned.

The objective of this planned ecological burn is to stimulate the fynbos seed bank. Because of the long history of pines growing on the common (over 60 years now), and a 16 year time lapse since the last fire, much of the native seed bank may have lost viability as it tends to do after 30 years. So some active restoration of fynbos plants that would have once occurred here will also need to happen.

Fire on the Common

The proposed burn area on the left of the path.

Why is Meadowridge Common important?
Cape Flats Sand Fynbos is a critically endangered veld type – only 11% remains in a natural state and only 1% is formally conserved. There are some patches where the natural Cape Flats Sand Fynbos still occurs in a degraded state, but with the potential to be restored. As our national conservation target is to have 30% of each veld type conserved, every bit counts. One such valuable patch is Meadowridge Common. In the heart of suburbia, it is a small natural remnant of what was Bergvliet Farm where William Purcell amassed his impressive collection of plants and animals that forms the basis of our knowledge of what used to occur in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos before urbanization destroyed most of it.


How can fynbos be restored on the Common?
Fynbos evolved to take advantage of fire and is now dependant on fairly frequent fires to trigger growth mechanisms and recycle nutrients in order for it to thrive. But fires don’t happen often in suburbia, and fynbos expert, Tony Rebelo, described Meadowridge Common as “the living dead” because without fire to stimulate new growth, it was slowly dying. The huge variety of species that have been growing there for decades, surprising visitors and scientists alike, will gradually die and disappear under introduced trees, invasive weeds and rank grass. A chance fire on the Common a few years ago caused by vagrants and quickly extinguished, revealed that there was still life in the soil. In the years that followed, bulbs appeared and bushes re-sprouted, seedlings took off and there was a burst of life in the burned area, spurring the Friends of Meadowridge Common to request that the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management Branch undertake a controlled ecological burn of the Common.

Restoring Meadowridge Common

The Friends of Meadowridge Common will be hosting a talk on Monday 11 November 2019 in the Meadowridge Library Hall, Howard Drive at 19h30.
Dr Charmaine Oxtoby, City of Cape Town's Biophysical Specialist, will be talking on Restoring the north-western corner of Meadowridge Common Conservation Area using an ecological burn. This conservation management project, planned for early 2020, is a collaboration between the Friends of Meadowridge Common, SANBI and the City of Cape Town Recreation & Parks Dept and Biodiversity Management Branch.
Secure parking is available at the library.
Refreshments will be served.
All welcome.
For more information, please contact the Chairman of the Friends, Roger Graham, on 021 715 9206.