PROGRESS WITH BIRDLIFE OVERBERG COASTLINE AND ESTUARY CONSERVATION PROJECTSPosted on the 29th January 2018
BIRDLIFE OVERBERG PROJECTS AIMED AT PROTECTING OUR COASTLINE AND ESTUARIES
Members of BirdLife Overberg decided to prioritise the spending of available funds and future fund-raising and conservation efforts. For this reason it was decided to focus our efforts on the Overstrand region’s coastline and estuaries. A workshop on this was presented on 2 and 3 September 2017 in collaboration with the Nature’s Valley Conservation Trust. Funds to present this workshop were generated through the presentation of a Xmas in July event. Many of the region’s role-players showcased their projects at the workshop and Dr Mark Brown conducted a brainstorming session on the Sunday afternoon. The six projects discussed herewith were identified during the brainstorming session. The projects will be done as case-studies that will be reported to the Western Cape Birding Forum regularly in view of other clubs possibly implementing similar actions in their regions. A presentation on the projects was done at the monthly meeting of the Somerset West Bird Club earlier in January and already they are considering getting involved in coastal cleanup projects in their area.
THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS WERE REPRESENTED AT THE WORKSHOP
• BirdLife Overberg/ Cape, Somerset West, Stanford & West Coast Bird Clubs
• Dyer Island Conservation Trust/ Nature’s Valley Trust
• BirdLife South Africa/ Coastal Cleanup Conservation/ Paddavlei Eco Group/ RAMSAR SA/ Rethink Single Use Plastics/ Whale Coast Conservation
• CapeNature/ Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Government/ Environmental Division, Overstrand Municipality
• Private individuals
We have already identified many key breeding sites of African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers on beaches along the Cape Whale Coast during the summer of 2017 and 2018. Possible causes of breeding failures are also being investigated. Educational campaigns will be launched at key breeding sites during the summer of 2018 and 2019. These campaigns will largely be based on posters, brochures and media releases developed by the Nature’s Valley Trust.
STATUS: Reports of breeding sites are already being received and documented. Appeals for participation are continually being disseminated through the local and regional media, as well as social media platforms. Provisional quotations for posters, brochures and the like at key breeding sites during the summer of 2018/ 2019 have been received from the Nature’s Valley Trust. Our fundraising efforts during 2018 will largely be aimed at financing the dissemination of the NVT technology.
More regular Co-ordinated Waterbird (CWAC) Counts will be undertaken along the Klein-, Uilenkraal and Botriver estuaries. The decision on how regularly these counts are to be undertaken will depend on the number of volunteers wanting to participate. The counts will be done in support of the work being undertaken by Dr Giselle Murison of BirdLife South Africa and Pierre de Villiers of CapeNature aimed at the development of management guidelines for these estuaries.
STATUS: These CWAC counts will commence in February during the regular summer counts and will be done in collaboration with the groups already doing such counts along the Bot and Klein Estuaries. Staff members of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust have volunteered to take responsibility for the Uilenkraal Estuary counts. The decision on how regularly these counts are to be undertaken will depend on the number of volunteers wanting to participate. This project is to be co-ordinated by Carin Malan.
WAR ON COASTAL POLLUTION
The distribution of fishing line bins along the Cape Whale Coast coastline. This will be done in association with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust who had already implemented this project with huge success. It is proposed that this initially be done in Onrus and Vermont and that it later be spread to other areas based on the need for it and available funds.
STATUS: Several key sites have already been identified. Quotations for the bins have been received from DICT. Note should however be taken of the fact that we might be able to get further support from Plastics SA and negotiations in this regard with John Kieser will commence in February. Other potential sponsors have also been identified and feedback on these negotiations will be given shortly.
The distribution of cigarette butt bins along Cape Whale Coast coastline. This will be done in association with Whale Coast Conservation who had already implemented this project with huge success. It is proposed that this initially be done in Onrus and Vermont and that it later be spread to other areas based on the need for it and available funds.
STATUS: Several key sites have already been identified and the decision was taken to put up five bins along the Onrus/ Vermont Coastal Path and five in central Hermanus. Quotations for the bins have been received from WCC. Note should however be taken of the fact that we might be able to get further support from the Overstrand Municipality and negotiations in this regard with Liezl de Villiers will commence in February. Also note that logo stickers for both BLO and BLSA can be accommodated on both of these bins. It should further be noted that alternative approaches to combat pollution through cigarette butts have been identified recently and we are investigating possibilities of forming partnerships with more groupings addressing this problem.
Volunteers will collect marine litter at specific problem areas that had already been identified by Antonio de Silva-Swart of Coastal Cleanup Conservation. The decision on how regularly these collections are to be undertaken will depend on the number of volunteers wanting to participate. Antonio addressed this issue at BirdLife Overberg monthly meeting on 9 October. The first coastal cleanup was done at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve on Saturday 21 October.
STATUS: Four monthly cleanups have already been undertaken along two sections of the Hoek van de Berg coastline, as well as along the Onrus and Vermont coastlines. Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen are managing this project. The next monthly cleanup will be undertaken on 17 February and details on this will follow shortly. Partnerships have already been formed with the Coastal Cleanup Conservation team and the Hermanus Swop Shop that fiscilitated a group of school children that are participating in the cleanups. The contents of the litter being collected are scored according to the Ocean’s Conservancy model and forwarded to our partners at WCC, Coastal Cleanup Conservation, Plastics SA and Coastal Conservancy in America. This is to contribute towards international research on the impact of plastics on our oceans. The encouraging outcome of the previous cleanups is that there is a significant reduction in litter after these cleanups, with the result that the cleanups at the three identified sites will in future be done on a quarterly basis. This will enable us to turn our attention to other "hotspots". Members are encouraged to assist us with these efforts by identifying further "hotspots" and to participate in cleanups.
Findings and reports on progress from the five projects mentioned above will be utilised for environmental education campaigns. The central theme of these campaigns during the next year will be the conservation status of the iconic African Black Oystercatcher, the BirdLife South Africa bird of the year for 2018. Three campaigns have been identified: Firstly, the posters and lecture packs forming part of the resources for the BLSA bird of the year campaign will be disseminated to as many schools in the Overstrand region as possible. Secondly, the copies of BLO’s four identification brochures on the common birds of the Western Cape will be disseminated to all schools reached through the bird of the year campaign. Teachers will be instructed to use both of these sets of resources. Quotations for the mass duplication of the brochures have been received and we have started approaching potential sponsors in this regard. Finally, we will attempt to focus on the African Black Oystercatcher as far as possible in all reports, presentations and media releases.
In conclusion - a decision has been taken to present a series of day-long workshops in view of raising funds for these projects and discussions on the planning of these workshops are in an advanced stage. An announcement on this will be made shortly.