WESSA award for our Chairperson!

Congratulations to Roger Graham who was awarded a runner-up WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa) award for individual excellence in environmental conservation and education. Roger's outstanding contribution to local citizen conservation through his leadership of the Friends of Meadowridge Common was recognized and a short video was shown highlighting his achievements. The Friends group under Roger's leadership has protected the Common's unique and critically threatened Cape Flats Sand Fynbos since its inception in 1997, and continues to champion its biodiversity to this day. Our group is also affiliated to WESSA through their friends programme. 

The award was made at a WESSA function hosted by Beaumont Primary School in Somerset West on Saturday 16 March. Despite the keynote speaker from the Western Cape Dept. of Education not putting in an appearance, it was a most enjoyable and well attended ceremony and the guests and recipients of the awards (mostly eco-school awards) were treated to a tour of Beaumont Primary which has the most fantastic eco-programme which permeates everything the pupils do.

Fire, fynbos, fauna and flora

Fire, fynbos, fauna and flora - its all in the latest newsletter compiled by the Chairperson of the Friends. Click on the link below to read all about what it happening on the Common. 

And save the date for our AGM on Tuesday 5 March in the the Meadowridge Library Hall at 18h00. There will be a talk on the recent wildfires in the Cape: the causes, how to fight them and how training is conducted, by Rob Erasmus. 

 Read our newsletter 

Join us for a Leap Year Weeding Session on the Common

On Thursday 29 Feb, the Friends will be hosting a weeding session on our new Cape Flats Sand Fynbos Circle on Meadowridge Common. This FynbosLIFE restoration circle was planted last year and has survived floods and burning heat since then. Bulbs came up and flowered (and hopefully set some seed), and many of the seedlings are hanging in there, waiting for the cooler, wetter days of Autumn in order to start growing. Some are already flowering, like the rough blue sage (Salvia chamelaeagnea) and twocolour brightfig (Lampranthus bicolor). We need to keep the area free of invasive kikuyu grass and other weeds, and urgently require help from local residents and Friends. Anyone is welcome to join us, just bring a trowel and a hat; and some water as it is hot work. We welcome moral support too! Tea and biscuits will be provided.   

For more information, please email Caroline or Roger at MeadowridgeFriends@gmail.com.

We have lots in Common

Join the Friends of Meadowridge Common to hear Dr Caitlin von Witt of FynbosLIFE talk about the new Sand Fynbos Circle on Meadowridge Common. Caitlin propagated fynbos plants from the Common and grew them on in the FynbosLIFE nursery until they were ready to be planted out on a specially prepared area of the Common which had become badly degraded. Now the Circle is ready to be introduced to the world - and you are invited to come and hear all about our precious Sand Fynbos and how this creative project will uplift not only the Common and the local community, but biodiversity in general.

The Friends are responsible for the upkeep of the Circle and will be needing all the help they can get from the community, especially the weeding out of invasive kikuyu grass. There are also workshops and environmental educational activities planned for the new year, so bring the family and come and hear more about the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos Circle on Monday 11 December.

Date: Monday 11 December
Time: 18h00
Venue: The parking area off Faraday Road, near the Football Club buildings.
Free entry.

For more information, contact Roger at 021 715 9206, email the Friends on Meadowridgefriend@gmail.com, visit our website at MeadowridgeCommon.blogspot.com, or search for The Friends of Meadowridge Common on Instagram or Facebook. 

We need your help!

Our new Cape Flats Sand Fynbos rehabilitation circle, designed and planted by FynbosLIFE with funding from the Rowland and Leta Hill Fund, is the first phase of a project to restore the natural fynbos on Meadowridge Common by removing invasive grass and weeds and allowing the indigenous flora and fauna to return. It is hoped that this will help conserve this critically endangered fynbos type, and also promote the use of the Common as a safe place for educational and recreational activities. The Friends of Meadowridge Common, who are overseeing the project, urgently need assistance with the maintenance of the rehabilitation circle, especially with weeding invasive kikuyu grass. The Friends will be hosting weeding sessions on selected days, and will be there to supervise weeders who would like to volunteer an hour of their time to assist. Any level of fitness is enough – even if you turn up just to see what is happening on the Common.

If you would like to participate, please send your email address and/or telephone number to The Friends of Meadowridge Common at Meadowridgefriend@gmail.com and they will let you know dates and times. We will also put notices on our social media pages and on the Friends website, http://MeadowridgeCommon.blogspot.com. Or just turn up on the next weeding day with a trowel.

The next weeding sessions is on Thursday 23 November from 9h00–10h00. 

What’s happening on Meadowridge Common?

Last week saw the beginnings of a rehabilitation project which aims to restore elements of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos (CFSF), the type of vegetation which once covered more than two-thirds of the Cape Flats but of which less than one percent is conserved. Meadowridge Common, being originally part of Bergvliet Farm, contains a small remnant of this type.

In January 2022, the Friends of the Meadowridge Common applied to the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust for the funding of a project which sought to rehabilitate part of the Common by planting Cape Flats Sand Fynbos which would demonstrate this particular type of biodiversity to the public.

A study of the Common, undertaken by the City’s Biodiversity Management Branch a few years before had assessed the whole area with respect to its conservation status. Some parts of the Common were less degraded than others and suited the intervention of a controlled burn in order for the seedbanks to be stimulated as well as seed being spread from the fire itself. Other areas were graded as being in a poor condition and an active restoration programme would be the best way to rehabilitate the CFSF.

Fortunately the Hill Trust granted the Friends their request and Dr Caitlin von Witt of FynbosLIFE was approached to manage a restoration project in one of the areas which is badly degraded. In the year since May 2022, cuttings and seed from plants from the Common have been propagated for the purpose of planting them on the Common in an area where for some decades alien grasses had taken over.

Now, the alien grasses have been cleared in a roughly circular area (the shape of a Protea scolymocephala flowerhead) and hundreds of plants have been planted, which, though small, will over time grow to fill the planted areas. Paths have been laid between these beds, and signage identifying the plants and their properties will be erected before the grand opening which is planned for the end of September.

Through this initiative of active restoration, The Friends hope that the value of the Common as a conservation area will be enhanced. Dr Von Witt’s aim is to involve the local residents in the planting, and maintenance of the area will be managed by the Friends. We appreciate how much the City has provided us with assistance in the undertaking of this project.

Roger Graham, Chairperson of the Friends of Meadowridge Common

Roger Graham (Chairperson of the Friends of Meadowridge Common), Caitlin von Witt (Managing Director of FynbosLIFE), Sihle Jonas and Luyanda Mjuleni (both from the City of Cape Town Parks and Recreation Department.) 

AGM and the Sand Fynbos FundaFynbos project

Dr Caitlin von Witt. Photo: FynbosLife. 
The AGM of the Friends of Meadowridge Common will be held on Thursday 9 March at 6.30 pm in the Meadowridge Library Hall, Howard Drive, Meadowridge. After the short business part of the evening, we will be introducing an exciting new project for the Common which will be the subject of the guest speaker, Dr Caitlin von Witt's presentation. Caitlin, who has a PhD in Botany, is the Managing Director of FynbosLIFE, a wildlife charity and non-profit organisation, run by botanists, ecologists and horticulturists. They protect and promote the City’s exceptional yet highly threatened local lowland fynbos biodiversity, through educational horticulture, habitat restoration projects, and their conservation nursery. The Friends of Meadowridge Common (with the approval of the City of Cape Town and generous funding from the Roland & Leta Hill Trust) approached Caitlin and her company with the idea of rehabilitating an extremely degraded part of Meadowridge Common by re-introducing fynbos plants from other parts of the Common and from surrounding Sand Fynbos sites, and we were thrilled when she agreed to take on the task. Caitlin is renowned for her fynbos habitat rehabilitation and we really could not have anyone better to do this. The exciting part of the project will be the accompanying information on the importance of the Common's Sand Fynbos - presented in the inimitable style of the FundaFynbos conservation education team - with community involvement and all the fun of getting to know our incredibly interesting local flora.

Please join us on Thursday 9 March to hear more about this exciting new project. Attendance is free, and refreshments will be served after the talk. For more information, please contact Roger Graham, the Chairperson of the Friends of Meadowridge Common, on 021 715 9206 or email the Friends on MeadowridgeFriend@gmail.com.