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Conservation team celebrates one year

The “river keepers” of the Mosselbank River near Fisantekraal celebrated a year of good service to the environment recently.

The Mosselbank River Conservation Team (MRCT), consisting mostly of residents of Greenville, the new development by Garden Cities, celebrated their first anniversary with the inauguration of their new headquarters – a container sponsored by Garden Cities, which will serve as an office and storage space for the team.

The container will be fitted with new floors and shelves soon and will serve as a base for the team.

The container has also been emblazoned with images and information about the collaborative and all its events. The objective of this is to attract more volunteers to the programme and to educate the wider Fisantekraal community.

This successful community initiative is aimed at rehabilitating and maintaining the social, ecological and amenity value of the Mosselbank River corridor in Greenville.

The MRCT is building and resourcing a community-based project to ensure the river is restored to its natural state and becomes a thriving environment with a range of benefits for the local Greenville residents.

The anniversary was spent celebrating the many beneficial and positive gains achieved since the launch in 2017, but most importantly to commend the MRCT members for their hard and dedicated work on the Mosselbank River and in the community.

Informal presentations were delivered by Andrew Bennett, environmental sustainability facilitator, and Danielle Sterrenberg, environmental officer of Garden Cities.

The MRCT core team consists of Elizabeth Maans (chairperson), Christine Galant (vice-chairperson), Thembakazi Ngcobo (secretary), Gert Krooi (store manager) and John Claasen (security and maintenance officer). Additional members include Esmeralda Julies (stand-in secretary), Lulama Dyobhani (treasurer), Caroldene van Reenen (stand-in treasurer), Magdalena de Bruyn, Isak Jonkers and Marius Jansen.

The core team was initially identified and established by Elizabeth Maans, who was one of the very first people to receive a new house in Greenville, where she has become an influential community leader.

Since first occupying her new home, she has been cleaning the roads and river as a community service.

When the new homes started being occupied, Garden Cities invited the participation of residents with a passion for the environment.

“Elizabeth tackled the recruitment with enthusiasm and her team is growing in strength under her strong leadership,” says John Matthews, CEO of the Garden Cities Group.

The duties of the team include monitoring and reporting of pollution, river quality, reporting fires, undertaking litter runs, weeding, clearing of alien vegetation and educating local residents about the importance of a healthy river.

Currently, the team conducts litter runs every second week and community clean-up days once a month. The Mosselbank River rehabilitation is now in its maintenance period and the MRCT, together with local community members, have been employed by Sacio Trading to assist with the maintenance.

The team is promoting environmental education within the community by linking up with other non-governmental organisations and social development programmes in the community.

Members promote awareness of illegal dumping issues, stray cattle (and the impact on the river), the purpose of the river rehabilitation and the danger of fires.

Events hosted by MRCT include World Wetlands Day, World Water Day, World Rivers Day, and Mandela Day.

They are also developing their skills through first aid training, snake handling and administrative tasks, while also learning from other river maintenance teams, such as the Friends of Liesbeek (FOL).

The establishment of this group was facilitated through a small grant from the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, which provided equipment, personal protective clothing and training.

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