The monthly newsletter of the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust
How your membership
can help the Breede
All estuaries in South Africa are under severe pressure resulting from over-exploitation of natural resources, habitat destruction and deterioration of water quality.
If you take an active interest in, or use, the Breede River Estuary we hope that we can persuade you to become a member of the LBRCT and to support our endeavours on your behalf by way of your contribution to these efforts.
The authorities who are ultimately responsible for ensuring protection of our valuable natural resources are contributing, however, they simply cannot afford to allocate sufficient of their available funds to meet the estuary’s conservation needs.
Your membership contribution supplements the funds obtained from the licence fees paid by users of boats; the municipalities by way of supplementary grants constrained by their many other social upliftment and development imperatives, and grants from those government agencies to whom we are contracted.
There are 62 estuaries in the Western Cape and all need support. The Breede is one of the two largest and most important and we all need to play a role in preserving it. 100% of your membership subscriptions are put to the best possible use to help maintain the conservation infrastructure that has taken many years to put in place and initiate new projects such as:
• Turtle and penguin rescue transport
• Environmental education programmes
• Holiday activity programmes
• Funding conservation interns
• Printing brochures, pamphlets, posters and information packs
• Producing and erecting signage
• Materials and equipment for monitoring projects
For R 100 a year, you can assist us with all of the above and add your voice that is so important to ensure that your opinions and concerns are heard. The LBRCT can speak more authoritatively when dealing with the vast number of threats, regulations and legislation that already affect the estuary with the backing of a sizeable member base.
Please think about the future of the estuary and the importance of maintaining its good health for you and your children’s benefit through supporting our effort.
Sideroxylon inerme (white milkwood, Afrikaans: wit-melkhout) is an indigenous coastal tree, with dense foliage, black berries and small, greenish flowers. The tree’s generic name means “Iron-wood” in Greek, referring to its very hard timber. It has been used as a general purpose timber for building boats, bridges and mills.
It is one of South Africa’s Protected Trees and several specimens are provincial heritage sites. This is the only member of the genus Sideroxylon in southern Africa.
A special feature of this tree is that it makes an excellent firebreak. In the Veld & Flora of June 2006, Andrea Durrheim describes in a letter to the Editor how a row of milkwood trees stopped a fire dead in its tracks behind her cottage. A similar situation was observed during the 2006 fires around Grootbos Nature Reserve. People with beach or holiday houses situated where fires frequently occur, should consider planting a row of milkwoods as a firebreak.
The Sideroxylon inerme trees are scattered through the coastal woodlands and littoral (a region lying along a shore) forests of South Africa as far as Zimbabwe. Historically, dense forests of large milkwood trees used to exist along the coast and bays of Cape Town, especially at Noordhoek, Macassar and Gordons Bay. The milkwood is not endangered but it is one of South Africa’s protected trees, and thus it is illegal to damage, move or destroy them.
They are semi-coastal sturdy broadleaf evergreen trees with dense foliage, displays of white bisexual flowers and edible purplish-black berries. It boasts leathery, spiral leaves, which, like the berries, contain milky latex. Young branches and new leaves are always covered with fine hairs. The tree can reach 15 m.
The milkwood has considerable value in traditional medicine and attracts birds and other animals to its flowers and fruits : Speckled mousebirds eat the flowers ; birds, bats, monkeys and bush pigs eat the fruit. It is also an effective firebreak and is cultivated for that purpose.
White milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) and the red milkwood (Mimusops caffra) are dominant keystone species on the coast and are protected because of their aesthetic and ecological role.
A list of 47 tree species have been declared as protected under the National Forests Act of 1998, (Act No. 84 of 1998). No such trees may be cut without a licence under section 15 of this Act. Trees such as white or red milkwood are forest species that sometimes occur outside forests and are listed as protected tree species. Cutting or pruning also requires a licence, except if less than 25% of the crown is pruned, but not for the topping of such trees, and not for new development or redevelopment (exemptions published in Government Gazette no. 773 of 27 August 2007). No topping or excessive pruning for sea views are allowed.
The white milkwood has great significance in South Africa’s heritage, with three specimens proclaimed as provincial heritage sites:
April bird count
Despite many of the summer migrant species that visit the Breede River Estuary over summer having left for the Northern Hemisphere, we were still able to record 692 birds and 32 species.
The most abundant birds were two South African resident waterfowl species: Egyptian geese (188 birds) and Yellow-billed ducks (119 birds). These two duck species and South African shelducks (66 birds) were most abundant on the mudflats.
Kelp gulls (86 birds) were most abundant on the sandbanks near the Breede mouth.
We were still lucky enough to find seven species of summer migrants still using the Breede River Estuary. This included two species of tern: common and sandwich terns.
Other interesting birds seen were Jackal buzzards and African spoonbills.
April marine debris
During the Oysterbeds litter survey, 236 pieces of litter were recorded, with 33% being fishing line. This accounted for 78 metres of fishing line. As with other months, cigarette butts are still an important litter category and they accounted for 13.1% of all litter collected. Other important litter categories found were glass pieces and food wrappers. Further odds and ends found during the survey include glowsticks, shoes and a t-shirt.
We hope you enjoyed this months’ issue. Should you have any feedback, questions, or matters you would like us to cover in a future issue, please do not hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.