We’re all familiar with the story of David and Goliath. It's a goodie, after all: Good triumphing over evil, against all odds.
A similar story worth sharing is that of the Mosselbank River Conservation Team (MRCT) in Fisantekraal, on the outskirts of Durbanville. This team takes on ten Goliaths simultaneously on any given day, and manages to not only stay positive, inspired and enthusiastic, but to actually make a difference.
Established in 2017, the MRCT volunteers together tackle some of Fisantekraal’ s environmental issues, specifically focussing on the Open Space area along the river which contains a valley-bottom wetland and a number of seep wetlands on the slopes above it. The area comprises of approximately 40.5 hectares.
With initial funding from CTEET and continuous support from Garden Cities NPC (RF), the MRCT have taken on the monumental task of rehabilitating this special environment to its natural, thriving state, offering a range of benefits to the surrounding communities. The Environmental Education Collaborative is promoted in the community through partnerships with local churches, schools, conservation organisation, media etc.
Danielle Cronje, Environmental officer for Garden Cities and the Team Coordinator for the MRCT (and our modern day David!), shares that when the team first started work here, the are was dominated by alien vegetation and litter. These days, one is welcomed by gorgeous vistas of lush green, teeming with life! Although still degraded, this system provides ecologically significant seasonal wetland habitat that is still hydrologically and geomorphologically intact, with very high potential for successful rehabilitation.
"Every time we see a sign of life returning to the river, we celebrate", says Danielle. This includes a wide variety of birds, crabs and most recently, a fresh water turtle - all signs that the environment is healing and returning to what it ought to be.
Danielle led us on a lovely, short walk on their newly lain path (created by hand by wheeling the gravel in, in wheelbarrows!), that meanders through the veld for about 135m, all the way to the gurgling stream. Fresh air, pretty views all around and birds aplenty, this has potential to be a really fun morning walk for the whole family (including the four-footed members!).
The dedicated team of volunteers, all from the Fisantekraal community, has grown from only five back in 2017 to 16 today, with about 50 active volunteers that regularly join their events, like clean-up and tree planting days. They work tirelessly to clean, protect and nurture this beautiful and unique ecosystem, all while educating and empowering the community.
The team has built and is maintaining various hard-landscaped play parks in and around the neighbourhood and is working on a community vegetable garden (supported by Sprouting Minds, another one of our worthy Outreach Partners) just next to the protected wetland.
Back to the aforementioned Goliaths... All of the work that this incredible team does, is so often halted and hindered by deep-rooted issues within the community such as poverty, racial tension, gangsterism, littering, and vandalism, to name but a few. The team is diverse with different languages, cultures and beliefs, but are in unison with one common goal: the wellbeing of their community and surrounding open spaces and river.
Dealing with an array of bureaucratic red tape, painfully stretched out over years, is also a constant uphill battle… And yet, through leading by example and - quite literally - getting their hands dirty, Danielle and her team has managed to instil change for the better.
We are left in absolute awe of what this group of Davids have already accomplished. We are inspired by the battles they have won and their constant dedication to keep fighting the good fight. And we are proud to name them one of our Outreach Partners for this month!
Keep up to date with the MRCT's regular events and clean-up days by following them on Facebook.
Danielle shows us their brand new community vegetable garden, bordering the high school and the protected wetland.
The team cleverly made use of eco bricks to create the beds for the veggies and herbs.
Lange, the team's beloved dog, doing what he does best: Basking in the sun and showing affection to anyone who has a leg to lean against!
Chatting to Elizabeth Maans, the fearless Team Leader of the MRCT.
Grazing livestock is just one of the many Goliaths that threaten the successful rehabilitation of the delicate wetland area.
The stunning walk towards the river...
Where once there was only alien vegetation and litter, the indigenous fauna and flora is making a comeback!
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