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‘No mowing’ signs put up too late

The City of Cape Town’s recreation and parks department is liaising with CapeNature for an agreement to ensure the long-term protection of protected areas in Durbanville, which usually comes to life with nature’s beautiful array of colourful spring flowers this time of year.

This came after the department was requested by residents to consider not mowing the protected sites during the winter months, or not mowing the areas at all, and only mowing the kikuyu patch at the corner of Bowlers Avenue and St John’s Street in Durbanville.

Nature protected areas are open spaces where a community collectively requests that mowing be postponed.

“The request had been discussed between the relevant City officials and the concerned members of the public. The department is now liaising with CapeNature to get an agreement in place,” Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, said to TygerBurger on enquiry.

“This process will take some time and when the time comes, the City will engage with the public through a public participation process,” she said.

Although this City boasts in a media release of protecting these natural flowers by not mowing during August, this year in Durbanville the plants in certain areas were mowed to the ground at the end of July already.

When confronted by TygerBurger about the mowing, the City insisted that no mowing has taken place at these nature protected areas during the month of August.

“A ‘no mowing, spring flowers blooming/seeding’ sign was installed during July at the flower blooming site in Durbanville,” Badroodien insisted.

However, according to Georina Westraadt, one of the residents campaigning against mowing, the “no mowing” signs were only put up in early August, after the plants were already cut down and she complained about it.

“They only put the signs up if someone complains or requests it. The flowers were blooming late this year due to the colder weather,” she said. The contractors started to mow late in July, she said.

On Monday 29 July she made several phone calls to speak to someone at the parks department in Durbanville to request that “no mowing” signs be put up. She could not get hold of anyone and had to phone again the next day. Although she was then assured the signs will be put up, the fields were all cut to the ground a few days later.

When she complained about this on 5 August, the city official admitted that he could not get the signs up in time. It was only put up the next day on 6 August, but it was already too late for this year’s flower bloom.

“Even mowing in July is not beneficial as plants need its stems and leaves to be able to carry flowers,” Westraadt said.

One of the areas in question is the public open space on the corner of Bowlers Avenue and St John’s Road.

According to the City’s media release, Babiana stricta (Bobbejaantjie) is part of the indigenous bulbs and shrubs found in this public open space.

“Remnants of the critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld are found at this site. There is also a small portion of the unique Cape Flats sand fynbos vegetation – less than 1% of which is currently conserved – with over 100 plant species recorded at this site.

“The flowers bloom mostly from August to October, and mowing does not take place during this period,” according to the media release.

Another protected area is the greenbelt in High Street in Durbanville.

“This greenbelt has the critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld, which protects a variety of shrubs and bulbs that bloom only in spring. Leaving this greenbelt in its natural state makes a significant contribution to the City meeting national conservation targets. Mowing does not take place between August and October,” according to the media release.

Residents who want the City to stop cutting grass in any area can submit a request to their local recreation and parks department, provided there is evidence of support from neighbours in the community.

Requests can also be sent through email to RP.Enquiries@capetown.gov.za.

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