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I continue to engage with officials, and there have been site visits in this month. Helen Duigan has been a great support in these efforts. We are working to iron out all the kinks so that our application is less likely to encounter hurdles, or that we anticipate and address “grey areas” upfront.

What are the hurdles, and why is the pace so slow? As I experience it, a staff change in the Department causes a setback not just in the time it takes for the new person to settle in and find their way, but also by a tendency to disregard all the effort and work that has gone before. And our project has been back to the starting blocks within the Department a number of times.

I maintain regular contact with officials (and others) to advance our application. While the steps feel very small and laboured, the direction is generally moving forward. I try to find something positive in this slow progress: it does mean that we can still add to the participation list.

There seem to long periods where an update sounds like the same message over and over. I decided to use less formal channels too, where a short sentences or two is enough - Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are just to stay in touch even when news is scant.

Our progress

Following the process in GDARD’s manual, the executive committee you elected has worked on the plans, in particular the Game Management Plan, Fire Management Plan, Financial Plan and the Social Plan. These feed into the Environmental Management Plan and together, are requirements for the application.

As this is OUR reserve, here is an invitation to debate, discuss and give input on the plans we are writing. The intention is simply to create a space where anyone who wants to put ideas forward can do so. The gathering will be very informal; let’s shape the overarching plans together.

Idle Winds has again offered a meeting room without charge so that we can get together, and I appreciate this hospitality in an exceptional local venue very much.

When: Sunday 28 April from 2:30pm onwards.

RSVP: Helpful to know if there is interest – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you are unable to come and chat, you are welcome to email your input.

Please visit any of the following to stay informed or to chat:

You will find the Fire Management Plan (the most pressing and urgent plan to be finalised) on the website.

Recap General Meeting

Significant decisions were made about the future at the General Meeting held at Idle Winds (minutes can be downloaded here).

Below, a short recap on three decisions: the name of the reserve, the committee and our constitution. I also include a task list the Executive Committee is working through.

Three Decisions

We decided on a name for the Nature Reserve. It was closely contested between Renosterkop Nature Reserve and the Crocodile River Reserve. Each name has its pros and cons, and the “motivation” for the each name was sent out ahead of time – good thing too or we may still be debating! The majority settled on Crocodile River Reserve.

The name draws attention to the water catchment, emphasising the extraordinary wealth of freshwater water ecosystems we have here. Underground water, three major rivers, and many wetlands and seeps characterise this part of the Crocodile River basin.

The catchment also contains the threatened terrestrial ecosystems which motivate for the proclamation of a nature reserve. These ecosystems are home to threatened species – red and orange listed – and an extraordinary wealth of biodiversity.

We also worked through our Constitution. It deserved more time than we had available, and it was not finally adopted but returned to the elected committee to refine. The general meeting did work through the most important or items which received the most comments.

The meeting gave the committee permission to present the constitution for electronic acceptance.

I have kept in circulation a version with comments and suggested changes. You can download that version from the website.  Make your own recommendations by email, or join the discussion on Sunday at Idle Winds.

We decided on an executive committee to keep the process moving. We need still to fill some area-specific seats so that landowners have adequate representation, and someone who speaks for (and feeds back to) the local area. These smaller areas with direct, local representation are key to our approach. You should be talking to someone who understands your local situation, knows the people and is easy to reach. These are the people who accepted the nomination to serve in specific areas, and who were elected at the general meeting:

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – Hills and Dales (Rietfontein)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Vlakfontein)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Hennopsrivier)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Roodekrans)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Riverside Estate – south)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Riverside Estate – north)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Doornrandje)

Office bearers were also elected by those at the general meeting - Chairman, Mercia ; Vice-Chairman, Terry ; Treasurer, Duncan; and Secretary, Carl.

It is clear that we need better representation on the Executive Committee. Consider there is no representation for Vlakplaats, Hennopsrivier (east of R511), Hennopsrivier (south of the river) . Any ideas, nominations or volunteers?

The committee also caters for business, non-landowners (tenants and workers) and government to participate. Representatives will be nominated at specific focus meetings yet to be held.

The committee is also in need of particular interests/skills in -

  • Fund Raising (experience and contacts would be useful),
  • Administration (detail-oriented and organised),
  • Research (to help us fill the knowledge gaps) and
  • Networking (to visit, build relationships, connect people with complimentary needs and services, etc.)  

There are also several short-term roles where help is needed on very specific projects or assignments for short periods, or regular but limited input.

If the thought of being on a committee does not appeal, please consider a specific task, or an offer of time or skill. Chat to me about how you want to chip in; there is so much to do that all hands are welcome!

In progress

Here a list of tasks in progress and the people coordinating each task:

Task

Purpose / Description

Status/Responsibility

Incorporation Agreements

How each landowner is participating in the reserve; our contract with each other

Committee to draft template; area representatives to agree with individual landowners

(not commenced)

Power of attorney

Permission to proceed

Outstanding POA to be signed and collected by area representatives

(in progress)

Contract between the State and Management Authority., as

The contract is signed by the state with the legal entity “Grassland Stewardship Alliance”, a not-for-profit registered with the Department of Social Welfare.

State to provide first draft (outstanding)

Game Management Plan

How game will be managed in the Nature Reserve; how existing game on participating land portions will be included/dealt with; how the ecosystems will be monitored and managed to ensure game level are sustainable and ecosystems are healthy and resilient

First draft prepared by Carl and Charl, with input from Blue Saint Claire.

Second draft in process (Mercia)

Fire Management Plan

A fire management regime which outlines how fire is used as a conservation tool, and how the area will comply with the Fire Act. There should also be a more detailed plan specific to a local area which includes names and contact details of the local fire team/ CPF as applicable

First draft by Carl with input from Duncan.

Second draft prepared and circulated for comment by Mercia

Second draft sent for comment selectively to CPF/fire team members of Hennops, Rietfontein and Doornrandje (Mercia and Duncan)

Financial and Business Plan

How will the Reserve be funded; what are the assets and anticipated expenses; budget

Draft prepared by Dieter with input from the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy and Duncan (as treasurer)

Additional work needed prior to circulating for wider comment (Mercia).

Social Plan

How the Reserve will benefit the community, including people who do not own land but are stakeholders

First draft by Wessel (outstanding)

Environmental Management Plan

The objectives of the Reserve; the description of the area and the environmental assets; how the Reserve will be managed

Original EMP by Vincent Carruthers updated and aligned with the Stewardship Manual (Mercia)

EMP updated to include the Cradle of Humankind and new information (Mercia and Glynn French)

EMP updated to exclude Cradle of Humankind (separate application process)(Mercia)

EMP to be aligned with the above plans, and ensure there are no contradictions or ambiguities – outstanding (Mercia)

Engage with State on application

The process of meeting the requirements in the Stewardship Manual, engaging with officials

Discussions and communication have been ongoing.

A further meeting held in April with officials (Mercia and Helen)

Information presented to Conservation Directorate in Mid-April by visiting GDARD Officials

Met with GDARD’s resource manager responsible for state-owned land establish a working relationship (GDARD Official/Mercia)

At the meeting participants were reminded that there are costs associated with the application process – the printing of the gazette notices and so on. You are asked to donate something towards those costs, as you see fit.

Grassland Stewardship Alliance

Bank: FNB

Branch: Fourways (251655)

Type: Business Cheque Account

Acc. No.: 62348450991

This is the “Not For Profit” registered with the Department of Social Welfare through which the Executive Committee does its work (095-125 NPO).

Hope to see you soon

Mercia

Historic and Cultural Sites


Sites of special cultural value or historic significance are found in the Reserve. The geology includes the same belt of dolomite which occurs in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Showcase


Information sheets about various species in the Reserve

Blackcollared Barbet

Birds

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African Finfoot

Birds

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Pompom weed

Alien Vegetation

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Themeda triandra

Grass

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Blacksmith Plover

Birds

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Lantana

Alien Vegetation

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