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.

Burning Course

Please note that there is a free 2-3 day Prescribed Burning Course being presented by CMO ( Louis van Dyk )
The course is presented at the office of the SCFPA in Riversdale on the 8 , 9 , 10 th September 2015 at 8h00 every morning
The course consists of 1 day theory and 1-2 day practical

Please contact us if you would like to attend before or on the 31 st August 2015 .

Groete / Regards

Philip Wilken

SCFPA Extension officer
Cell 079 697 8706
Office 028 713 1987

Ruaan Barnard, our Conservation Intern who has starting work for us in our Conservancy would like to introduce himself:


I have been a part of the Duiwenhoks Conservancy for the past two weeks and I am very happy to be here and part of the group.

Firstly, I would like to speak about the people of this community.

From the first day that I arrived in Vermaaklikheid everyone made me feel welcome and was very friendly towards me.

Community people helped me where they could, and offered to help with anything I might need in the future.

So far I’m get along very well with the people and I believe that my relationship with the community will become even stronger.

I see that the village is very small and at the same time it is also very clean.

I was surprised to see that the whole area is in such a good condition and I will do my best to keep it that way.

My work in the community is not only with the people but also to conserve the wildlife here.

The projects that I will tackle, as part of the conservancy are:

Environment education (Vermaaklikheid School)
Alien clearing
Patrolling the rivier
Vegetable gardens with people in the community.
Cooperation with the “Firebreak Association”

There will be lots more in the future.

I was in Cape Town for the second week, where I received some good training to improve my communication skills, my ‘kettingsaag vaardighede’ – chainsaw competence and l training in environmental education. This was particularly important, as I will work with school children.

In my first week in Vermaaklikheid I saw a surprising number of animals. Those that amazed me were the otter, which I saw along the river and on land as well as a massive school of harders. There were so many that they jumped into my boat. This was a first for me.

Everything I do for the conservancy is to protect the environment and its natural life, not because I must but because I love wildlife and I believe that everyone needs nature.

Thank you very much,

Ruaan Barnard

Conservation Intern

Dear Conservancy Members and Friends

Exciting News
We have a Conservation Intern starting work in the Conservancy from next week.

His name is Ruaan Barnard and he has been studying at the School of Conservation at NMMU in George.
If this year is a success, the Conservancy will host a new Intern each year going forward.
SUPPORT NEEDED: We need donations to covers his costs and salary for the year. See below:
The Conservancy Committee will be meeting him this weekend to plan projects and activities for the next 3- 6 months. Projects and activities will likely include the following:

  • Removing black wattle from the river banks – please let me know if you have black wattle on your property that you would us to remove. 
  • Facilitating a community vegetable garden with financial support from the Western Cape Dept of Agriculture
  • Outreach to the mission school to teach the children about conservation
  • Regular presence in the village and on the river to report on interesting findings or illegal activities
  • Skills audit and list of contact numbers for people in Skoolkop
  • Monthly report to the blog

If you have any ideas for projects or would like Ruaan to oversee some work for you, please email John Thorne.

BIG THANKS to the people who are supporting this initiative.

Fire fighting news

Message from SCFPA:

We would like to inform all that Eden District Municipality has decided, in light of the recent increase of wild veld fires, to lighten the burden of fire suppression costs on the landowners, through the following methods:

1. Ferry of Eden Fire and Rescue services resources to the fire and back are FREE

2. The first hour on the fire line is FREE

3. After the first hour, the costs will be carried by the landowner (does not affect the free ferry back)

4. To SCFPA members: You will receive a 50% DISCOUNT on the fire suppression cost, should it go over 1 hour. The SCFPA Working on Fire teams are also FREE for the whole duration of a fire (food and transport excluded)

This strategy is to motivate landowners to phone the Eden Fire and Rescue services, as well as the SCFPA, to stop fires before they get out of control.

Eden fire line – 044 805 507