14 May 2017

The Land Regeneration Project - Part 3

The impenetrable wall of Tickberry (Lantana camera)
Over the last few months, we have chipped away at the invasive shrubs and bushes, clearing Tickberry (Lantana camera) and chopping down the odd Bugweed (Solanum mauritianum) as well as planting a number of new indigenous trees in the valley.

An entire weekend was dedicated to assaulting the Lantana camara thicket obscuring our view. Late Friday afternoon saw me at my now customary equipment rental shop, Coastal Hire. With bladed brush cutter in hand, I was looking forward to giving the lantana a good wrecking. As it happened, laying into lantana is a little more difficult that anticipated. A bladed brush cutter is rather heavy when you are trying to wield it like a sword. It took less than 30 minutes to realise that I would not be destroying the Lantana this weekend, it would have to be done with a machete instead.
Kaily now has her own spade to help dig
Moving on, large thickets of herbaceous stemmed Black Jack (Bidens pilosa) would be taken out instead, thus increasing the cleared area twofold. Cutting Black Jacks was far more successful, as the spinning metal blade simply laced through them. By Saturday afternoon, I felt I had at least made some improvements, even if they were not as targeted.

The next weekend started off with an early morning session of bamboo barrier building. As the construction has now been somewhat simplified, I had 5 new barriers within a matter of a few hours. All that was left was to get 5 new trees planted. Despite not having cleared quite as much lantana as planned a week before, I had managed to push the invasive bank back far enough to fit in a line of new trees. With the ever helpful Kaily at my side to help clear the area, we managed to plant 4 new trees into the available space. The fifth tree made it into the newly cleared area, an area that will see a significant number of further specimens planted shortly.

The long easter weekend provided me with one last session in the valley, using a regular brush cutter to trim the grass down, whilst also creating a short path through the cleared area. I hope to maintain this section whilst also expanding it as the clearing continues.


With a number of recent commitments, an extended weekend in Cape Town preceding a week long cruise (Flock at Sea), and there has been precious little time to pay further attention to the valley. I should have a few more weekends coming up to hack away at more invasive vegetation, whilst also constructing more barriers for planting. Unfortunately, it has become apparent over the last vew months that an even worse invasive alien is starting to take over from the Bugweed and Tickberry. The Mauritius Thorn (Caesalpinia decapetala) seems to have spread down the Town Bush River, from heavy thickets on either side of the road to African Enterprise. Already this thorny shrub with a propensity for climbing has engulfed a 15metre high Pigeon Wood (Trema orientalis), which I need to attend to shortly. Unlike Lantana and Bugweed, this shrub has severe thorns and shall require much care when being removed.

Another Podocarpus latifolius successfully planted. 

Kaily getting a lift after all her hard work
Meg supervising our work from the safe confined of the wheel barrow


Trees planted to date

Tree 1 Planted    02 January 2017   Senegalia galpinii       Monkey Thorn
Tree 2 Planted    08 January 2017   Senegalia galpinii       Monkey Thorn
Tree 3 Planted    21 January 2017   Trichilia dregeana       Forest Mahogany
Tree 4 Planted    21 January 2017   Podocarpus latifolius  Real Yellowwood
Tree 5 Planted    21 January 2017   Podocarpus latifolius  Real Yellowwood
Tree 6 Planted    26 March 2017      Ficus lutea                  Giant Leaved Fig
Tree 7 Planted    26 March 2017      Rauvolfia caffra           Quinine Tree
Tree 8 Planted    26 March 2017      Senegalia sieberana   Paperbark Thorn
Tree 9 Planted    26 March 2017      Albizia adianthifolia     Flatcrown Albizia
Tree 10 Planted  09 April 2017         Podocarpus latifolius  Real Yellowwood
Tree 11 Planted  27 May 2017         Podocarpus latifolius   Real Yellowwood
Tree 12 Planted  27 May 2017         Podocarpus latifolius   Real Yellowwood
Tree 13 Planted  27 May 2017         Albizia adianthifolia      Flatcrown Albizia
Tree 14 Planted  27 May 2017         Senegalia galpinii        Monkey Thorn
Tree 15 Planted  27 May 2017         Trichilia dregeana        Forest Mahogany
Tree 16 Planted  27 May 2017         Trichilia dregeana        Forest Mahogany
Tree 17 Planted  27 May 2017         Strelitzia nicolai           Natal Wild Banana
Tree 18 Planted  27 May 2017         Strelitzia nicolai           Natal Wild Banana