Coast KZN

26 Jul 2018

Green fingers hard at work

Elana Wagner (North Coast Courier) Picture: Nomusa Thusi, Lindelwa Mpindani, Michael Hickman, Hlengiwe Luthuli, Nonzukiso Myilane and Mbali Phakathi proudly stand onsite at the Sibaya Coastal Forest Reserve.

Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust has officially been registered and is operational

The first steps to rehabilitate, conserve and protect nature’s gifts at Sibaya Coastal Precinct have recently been taken by the Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust.

With over 60 percent of the total 1 042 hectares to be retained as coastal dune forest, wetland and open spaces including areas under sugar cane to be rehabilitated, the Trust made it their mission to return these green assets to their original state.

Tongaat Hulett Developments executive Dayalan Chetty said the trust has officially been registered and is operational.

“This forest is a regional asset and will be carefully managed along with the beaches, wetlands and other rehabilitated open spaces by the trust,” said Chetty.

Hlengiwe Luthuli from Hlengiwe Luthuli Environmental Management.

Horticulturist Geoff Nichols, who heads up the horticulture portfolio, said the next major phase of area rehabilitation through active invasive plant control is continuing at good pace and standard.

“The next strip of clearing of invasive plants will be along the western edge of the coastal forest and into the forest proper for about 20 to 30 metres. The distance into the forest will vary due to the nature of the gaps or clearings in the forest,” said Nichols, who is known for his work in successfully preserving and maintaining the natural environment in Zimbali Coastal Resort.

He said one of their more challenging tasks so far has been the clearing of a large and stubborn Barbados Gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata) shrub, native to the tropical Americas, growing over an indigenous White Stinkwood (Celtis africana) tree just to the east of the Vodacom towers. This clearing is still in progress and is likely to take a while.

Nichols will be working closely with Hlengiwe Luthuli, who was appointed by Tongaat Hulett and is the owner of Hlengiwe Luthuli Environmental Management (HLEM).

“I am so happy to have this opportunity to make a positive impact on improving and preserving the area’s vast natural heritage,” said Luthuli, who grew up in the neighbouring village Blackburn and employs 14 local women.

Besides tacking the alien invaders, Luthuli said they will also be collecting indigenous plant seeds and propagules to replant in areas that have been cleared of invasive plants.

Work along the M4 and Sibaya Circle with Helelza Boulevard has started which will not only have a positive impact on the environment but will also improve visibility and safety along this busy stretch.