Conservancy AGM 2019

The AGM was held on Easter Saturday, 2019 in Vermaaklikheid.

Here is the presentation from the meeting – AGM2019 Presentation

Click here to read the minutes: Conservancy AGM minutes 2019

Funding Appeal: The pre-school in the village has run out of funding and almost 20 children are missing out on a vital part of their early childhood development.  A new school board has been established to get it up and running again and raise the necessary funding for it to continue. Click here to read the funding appeal.  

Post-Fire Meeting in Vermaaklikheid, January 18th 2019


Duivenhoks Conservancy – John Thorne, Abie Pretorius

DEA: NRM, – Mr Japie Buckle

Garden Route Environmental forum (GREF) – Cobus Meiring 

Southern Cape Fire Protection Agency – Charl Wade, Philip Wilken

Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) – Rhett Hiseman

Thank you for the visit to Vermaaklikheid. The data provided at the Lourensford Wildfire Conference (December 2018) according to my memory was that 3500 Ha was burnt in the October 2018 fire.  

We (Officials from GREF, SCFPA, SCLI, DEA:NRM and GCBR) toured some of the areas of the burnt veld around the village and noted dense areas of small rooikrans seedlings starting to appear in certain areas.  In other areas there was minimal alien regrowth. A number indigenous pioneer plant species have also started to appear. In many areas the ground was baked hard by the heat of the fire with minimal topsoil remaining. During our visit it was evident that the strong SW wind was blowing away remaining topsoil. Some soil erosion mitigation interventions might be needed in future to prevent further soil loss.

Japie Buckle (DEA:NRM) stressed that now (next 12 months) is the time to remove the seedlings while they are small ( between 5cm and 60cm tall) and easily pulled out. However this is a huge undertaking due to the extent of the fire. Invasive Alien plants (IAP) control is the responsibility of the Individual landowners and they will need to fund the rehabilitation of their properties. The rooikrans stands (Acacia cyclops) will be even denser after the fire (due to massive long lived seed loads in the ground) if the situation is not addressed effectively.

It is important to note that if the land is not rehabilitated it will lose its value and rather than be an asset, it will become a liability as alien regrowth increases future fire risk and further degrades the land. It is important that landowners act now!

DEA: Natural Recourses Management (NRM), Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) and Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA) will assist the Duivenhoks Conservancy & landowners where possible with:

  • developing a IAP control and rehabilitation plan for the area (GREF)
  • providing herbicide & training how to use it.
  • supporting the enforcement of local regulations around alien clearing.
  • technical assistance regarding best practice

We agreed the following: 

  • SCFPA will provide cadastral map of properties in the burnt area to DEA, copied to myself. Some of the properties will fall inside the conservancy and some outside. 
  • DEA: NRM will facilitate through GREF to produce a map that overlay burnt area map with previous IAP invested area to produce an IAP control and rehabilitation plan.
  • We schedule a meeting in the village (in March) to present plan to landowners. The objective is to get buy-in for the implementation of the plan. This will be a jointly convened by Duivenhoks Conservancy and SCFPA.
  • At the same meeting the Fire management unit will be discussed.

Initial thoughts regarding implementation process:

  • Train up a team in the village to pull seedlings and spray dense infested areas with herbicides. 
  • Landowners will fund this process.
  • Conservancy will attempt to raise further funding to partially subsidise the costs. 

Risks & challenges highlighted:

  • Costs of rehabilitation and the fact that some landowners will not be able to afford this process. 
  • Erosion of burnt slopes
  • Loss of fynbos due to longstanding aliens and heat caused by the fire. 

I think this is all for now. 


John Thorne

Chairman, Duivenhoks Conservancy

SANBI offers Biological Invasions Bursaries for 2018.

Dear Reader

SANBI is offering Biological Invasions Bursaries for 2018. Bursaries are available to conduct research as part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s work on biological invasions. The closing date for application is Friday 3 November 2017.

For more details on the types of projects that can be considered or different projects to do please click here.


Best regards

Karen Morris

Web Administrator

The passing of James Miggels

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of James Miggels. James passed away on the 10th of July 2017.  He was born in Vermaaklikheid and is survived by his wife Alida and his four children, Velicia (26), Jo-Jean (22), Allister (18) and Allison (14).

James was a valued member of the Vermaaklikheid community. He started the village food garden, and was a great source of knowledge about the plants and animals in the area. The Conservancy made a small donation to his family. He will be missed! 

Duiwenhoks latest updates

Dear all

The annual Conservancy AGM took place on Saturday the 15th April, at the Vredesaal. The event was well supported and it was great to see some new faces. Items discussed were:

– Update on the various projects
– Report back from myself
– Report back from Abie Pretorius
– Election of committee for the year head – positions chairman, treasurer, and committee member

Subscriptions continue to come in. Thank you. If you haven’t yet made a contribution, the bank details are: Duiwenhoks Conservancy, Standard Bank, Rondebosch, Branch Code: 02500911, A/c No: 0755 77623. Please use your surname and farm as reference.

The Conservancy website has had a refresh. If you have a picture you would like to contribute, please email it to us at

The Conservancy has also commissioned a short documentary film that showcases the projects currently underway in the village. The documentary was filmed by Bart Love of Another Love Productions ( The video release is scheduled for later in June and will be published on the website.

With winter around the corner, now would be a good time to stock up on firewood. If you would like to place an order and have it delivered to your farm, please contact Abie on 076 6289579.

That’s all for now. Watch this space!

Warm regards

John Thorne


Our website has a fresh new look

Welcome to our new website.

It’s a brand new look with so many new features. One of them is the Community Projects page. Head over there to find out whats happening in the community. Find out what the About us page says about the Conservancy and have a look at the beautiful pictures posted in the Gallery page. If you would like to become a member of the Conservancy, jump straight to the Contact us page. We would love to have you on board.

I hope that you enjoy the new look and have a happy browsing experience. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to send us a message.



Web Administrator 


Report back on the community project

Dear All

Here is a report back on the community project. It started the week after the easter weekend when the team attended a chainsaw course in the village. The training course took a week and allowed all the team members plus a few reserves to get a certificate and more importantly understand safety and maintenance. This is important when working with lethal equipment like chainsaws when one slip can result in a frontal lobotomy. My admin colleague in Cape Town at SouthSouthNorth is in the process of registering the team members with COIDA so that they can receive workman’s compensation if needed.

First the financials:
The following week on the 4th April, they began clearing land on Kershoutfontein in the village. So far the team of 5 people under Abie’s guidance have cleared about 5Ha of Kershoutfontein. They have cut more than 15,0000 pieces of firewood. They have also kept aside smaller pieces of wood for charcoal if and when we decide to manufacture it.

The conservancy pays each member of the team R 2,000 month and the wood will be sold in bulk to a wood merchant for about 60c a piece which will be used to supplement incomes so that each person will be getting R 3000 per month on average.

At the moment we are charging Kershoutfontein R5,000 / month in clearing charges. This will be reviewed at the end of Q1 of the project and is likely to increase.

In summary:
Income per month
Clearing charge – R 5000
Wood income – R 6000
Total – R 11,000

Team 5 x 2000 = R 10,000
Performance from wood sale = R 5,000
Petrol = R 1000
Maintenance = R 500
Total = 16,500

The Conservancy through funding raised, is covering the shortfall. In addition the Conservancy covers Abie’s salary of R 4000 per month, purchase of equipment (about R 40k) and the cost of the initial training course (R16k). I claim travelling costs for my monthly trips from Cape Town.

Abie is busy with a number of additional roles including patrolling the river, teaching local school children about environmental issues, facilitating many meetings on the ‘Kop’ and assisting with the further development of the village food garden. Ideally we should send Abie to attend Saasveld college to do a course in Nature Conservation. He makes all the operational decisions and is a fine young man and well respected in his community.

There are a number of softer benefits that I see:
There is a real sense of pride and ownership in the project and this has translated into renewed productivity amongst community members.
The project has brought members of the various communities in the village together. They are working alongside each other, building bridge and common vision. This is good.

What we need the following support:
Someone to oversee the website redevelopment: we have a small budget and someone to do the work. The website is important for our ability to gain support and raise further funding. I need someone to take this on. Any volunteers?

Further funding – I am working on this.

A vehicle for the project in the village

Landowners who want to hire the team for a few months.
These letters will soon go into a blog on the redesigned website.

That’s all for now

John Thorne

Our first pile of wood for sale.