Duiwenhoks Conservancy AGM 2021

Duiwenhoks Conservancy AGM 2021

We completed our first digital Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 24 March 21.

Many thanks to all who attended it and gave us feedback, especially during the committee election section. We really appreciate your interest. 

If you are interested in the recording, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfMPCgnWwnA

Our AGM agenda included:

  1. Chairman’s Report + finances 
  2. Review of 2020 initiatives
  3. Hessequa Municipality property valuation 2021
  4. Wild fire: Vermaaklikheid fire fund & February 2021 fire
  5. Alien clearing: Uitvlug case study
  6. Duiwenhoks Estuary Report by Dr Lara van Niekerk & Dr Stephen Lamberth
  7. Election of Committee for 2021/2

We will share more soon! 

Duiwenhoks Estuary overview presentation (Lamberth)

Dr Stephen Lamberth has been sampling the Duiwenhoks Estuary for more than two decades. Stephen spoke about the state of the fish in our river, including some shocking data about the fish stock levels. There are about 50 breeding pairs of dusky kob in the southern Cape – it really is a critically endangered species. We need to protect it. 

His talk is available here: Lamberth Duiwenhoks Talk 24 March fish-compressed

Dr Stephen Lamberth is a fisheries ecologist at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). He has been involved in about 30 specialist studies focusing on freshwater flow requirements of river, estuarine and marine fish. He was the project leader in a comprehensive biological and socio-economic study of the South African beach-seine and gillnet fisheries.

Here’s a sample of his presentation showing the categories of our 45+ species:




Duiwenhoks Estuary overview presentation (van Niekerk)

We had our AGM today, with fantastic presentations from our 2 estuary experts. Dr Lara van Niekerk has shared her presentation with us – and here it is if you want to see it:

Van Niekerk Duiwenhoks Talk – 24March 2021-compressed

Dr Lara van Niekerk led the team of specialists who assessed the health and ecosystem condition of all of South Africa’s estuaries as part of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 and 2011.

Dr van Niekerk is a senior scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). She specialises in the physical dynamics of estuaries; estuarine condition assessments; environmental flow requirements; and estuary management and policy. Lara played a lead role in the development of the generic framework for estuary management plans. Lara is also part of a core team that develop environmental flow requirements technologies for South Africa.

A Practical Permaculture Workshop

The Conservancy hosted a Permaculture Design workshop over 2 days in November 2020.

On our first morning, we spent some time understanding the basics of Permaculture. There are 3 ethics involved: to care for the earth, to care for people, and to share the surplus. The rest of the time was outside, learning how to apply some Permaculture principles in planning and planting vegetable gardens.

We made good examples of a swale bed on a contour and a vegetable garden for four. These examples can be copied in terms of design and companion plantings. We created a ‘mother’ bed with the variety of plants that Alex supplied. The idea with this bed is to provide cuttings for our own vegetable gardens.

Alex shows us how to build a ‘machine’ to identify levels across any ground

Many thanks to Konrad Stutterheim and Chesslin Micheals for agreeing to maintain these plants. If you would like to visit the gardens, please liase with Konrad or Chesslin.

We have much to be thankful for, especially:

  • Alex for her brilliant facilitation; pitching her knowledge to a very diverse group, keeping things fun and light while also driving us to complete. Alex also supported our initiative financially by charging a reduced rate for the workshop.
  • Shelly Kleyn Armistead for kindly and generously funding the project and Margaux Newdigate for sourcing and securing that support and funding.
  • Guy Tillim, Konrad Stutterheim and Lawrence Jones for providing the space as our base;
  • Ruth Loewenthal for helping with access to the kitchen and crockery.
  • Pieter Takkies of Bosheuwel for the manure.
  • Chesslin Michaels, Konrad and Guy for allowing us to use their gardens.
  • Our delegates. Friday and Saturdays are working days for many and the weather was very challenging. Everyone got stuck in and did what they could to make it a fun and productive two days.

For more info, please contact Rooken at rooken@rookenpodesta.com.


On Saturday we spent some time laying out the mother garden for planting our seedlings into.

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