Chair: Ms Margaret Crampton [home phone: 046 622 4764; cell: 083 635 0970]
Vice-chair: Mr Mike Bandey
Secretary: Mr Peter Breetzke
Treasurer: Dr Sukhmani Mantel
Additional members: Prof. Ted Botha, Dr Jenny Gon, Prof. Pat Irwin, Prof. Roy Lubke, Ms Angie Thomson
Postal address: PO Box 73, Grahamstown, 6140
The Grahamstown branch of WESSA performs a local watchdog function, voicing concerns to the relevant authorities when necessary. We also support several local environmental initiatives, and have an ongoing project to make the Ecca Nature Reserve more accessible to members of the public. In 1998, the branch published the second edition of the Field Guide to the Eastern & Southern Cape Coasts. The branch is currently producing a guide to Grahamstown and its surrounds. In addition, we encourage member participation through a programme of monthly activities which take the form of either a talk on an environmental topic or an outing to a place of interest, usually in the Albany region. In 2011, the branch initiated the concept of having a Wildlife Experience once a year, which includes the prestigious Jack Skead Memorial Lecture, as well as an outing and other events supported by experts. The inaugural event was a very successful Elephant Experience, and this year was an equally successful Mountain Experience. A Desert Experience is planned for 2013.
Current watchdog activities
- Relocation of the Belmont Valley Golf Course and associated Residential Development
- Fairewood Estate Housing Development
- Riebeek East wind farm
- Arbor Day: the branch played a key role in the formation of the Millennium Tree Planting Project, a non-profit organisation, which, since 1999, has supported cleaning and greening at a community level. Each year the branch awards a trophy on Arbor Day to the school/institution in Makana that has planted trees and is looking after their grounds.
- Science Expo: WESSA committee members are involved in judging at the annual local Science Expo.
The branch encourages the development of environmental projects by awarding a trophy for the best environmental project and is willing to offer financial support of environmental projects to enhance the awareness of environmental and wildlife research. For further info, contact Prof. Roy Lubke (at: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Science Expo Chairman, Bruce Brown (at: email@example.com)
- Kowie Catchment Campaign: the KCC is a local community initiative that cares about our local rivers and streams. [ http://www.kowiecatchmentcampaign.org.za/ ]
- Makana Environmental Forum: the branch supports the MEF which meets 3–4 times a year, providing an opportunity for representatives from local environmental organisations/institutions to network and be updated on environmental activities in Makana
- Oldenburgia Conservancy: in 2009 the branch provided funding for four signboards to be posted at different entry points to the conservancy
- Book project: under the leadership of Prof. Roy Lubke, the branch is producing a book Grahamstown: A Guide to the Natural and Cultural History. The 128-page guide will provide info on the local geology, palaeontology, flora, fauna, conservation and the town’s history, as well as describe walks and trails in and around Grahamstown, accompanied by maps.
- Ecca Nature Reserve: in the late 1980s the Grahamstown branch of WESSA took on the responsibility of developing the 134 ha Ecca Nature Reserve, located 15 km from Grahamstown on the R67 to Fort Beaufort . This was a cooperative effort with support from local schools, Rhodes University , the then Divisional Council, the Albany Museum and the Grahamstown Round Table. Trails were laid out, two information plinths built and a flier of the Reserve was produced. The branch is currently re-marking the trails and plans to refurbish the signage on the plinths and produce an updated flier.
An outing in the Ecca Nature Reserve in 2007.
- Great Fish River Reserve: the former ‘Friends of the Great Fish River Reserve’ now acts as a sub-committee of the Grahamstown branch of WESSA. This informal ‘Friends’ group has recently trimmed the thorn bushes which border the road to the Kwalamanzi hide, as well as cutting back vegetation along the access tunnel to the hide. The group has also compiled a map of the Reserve and are exploring options to have the map printed.
- Burnt Kraal signage: reminding the public that the picking of wild flowers is prohibited. This was a joint project with the Makana Municipality.
- Mountain Drive signage and flier (A3 format: in 2007 the branch put up signage on different routes on Mountain Drive (Southern Commonage), indicating distances to various destinations. Roy Lubke also produced a brochure of eight popular walks on Mountain Drive [see Publications below].
A King Protea along one of the trails marked by WESSA signs
- Refurbishment of the Toposcope on Signal Hill [ Mountain Drive]: the signage was replaced and the building given a new coat of paint.
- Field Guide to the Eastern and Southern Cape Coasts (1998, 2nd edition) edited by Roy Lubke and Irene de Moor [contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
- Mountain Drive flier [download pdf ] A3 format
2012 Talks and Outings
End of January: Mountain Experience at the village of Rhodes in the Eastern Cape Drakensberg
March 8: Jack Skead Memorial Lecture by Professor Goonie Marsh on ‘Mountains: insights into the workings of the Earth’
March 31: AGM; talk by Professor Geoff Antrobus on 'A Green Economy'
April 15: Work party in the Ecca Nature Reserve
May 2: Mountain Experience photo evening
May 5: Combined outing with the Albany Horticultural and Lilium Society to the Ecca Nature Reserve to learn about Succulent Thicket vegetation
June 19: Combined event with the Diaz Cross Bird Club — talk by Mike Schramm on ‘Birds, cats and mice: researching 30 years of interaction on subantarctic Marion Island’
August 11: Talk by Mark Price on recycling in Grahamstown, followed by a visit to the recycling project at the municipal refuse dump
September 18: Talk by Dr Billy de Klerk on ‘Karoo landscapes over 110 million years during Permian and Triassic times’
September 21–24: Outing to Nieu Bethesda with a botanical and palaeontological focus
September 26: Launch of memoirs of the late Peter Jackson (former chairperson of WESSA)
October 4: Talk by Dr Conrad Labandeira, on ‘Adventures in a modern Panamanian forest canopy and observations on Mesozoic herbivory and pollination’
October 11: Two talks on ‘The birds of Bird Island’ and ‘Birds of paradise’ by two students from the RU Zoology Dept
November 18: Local farm visits - postponed until 2013
Photography from our Mountain Experience. Eastern Cape Drakensberg - January 2012