Review by Vincent Carruthers | River of Gold by Peter Norton, Michael Gardner and Clive Walker. Jacana Media. Johannesburg. 2015. Price R280.00 (Special launch offer during April R230.00)
River of Gold is a remarkable new book about an even more remarkable South African river: the iconic Limpopo. The authors take the reader with them on a journey of 1 800 km along the length of the Crocodile-Limpopo River from its source in urban Johannesburg to its mouth on the Mozambique coast. And what a journey it is! Combining superb photographs, history and legend, geology, geography and anecdotes, the three men who have put this book together have each had a long and intimate association with one of our country’s best known but least explored rivers.
Andrew Keys of Hekpoort writes:
This afternoon whilst working on the lapa at home I heard the raucous 'kek-kek-kek-kek' of a Giant Kingfisher and sure enough a female was on the perch in the pond at the bottom of the garden. Luckily the camera was with me and I snapped some pics before she was gone in a flash. I have been trying to get a pic of this character at the pond for months now so got really lucky!! Not too shabby to have as a garden bird! Hekpoort.
South Africa is the first country to set up a trust for its biosphere reserves. The trust links all biospheres in the country to work as one aligned unit. Biosphere reserves are encouraged to place strong emphasis on local collaboration and breaking down the barriers between municipalities, farmers, businesses and the general public.
The Magaliesberg Biosphere non-profit company has appointed members to the board.
On 25 September last year the first step was taken to appoint a management board for the Magaliesberg Biosphere. During the weeks that followed all stakeholders were encouraged to identify and nominate individuals with the skill, interest and experience to both represent an interest group and lead the work of the biosphere.
Voting opened on 1 December and each nominee was introduced to the stakeholders on the website and on facebook. Votes were counted on 15 December in a formal manner, with Kevin Gill and Mercia Komen present for civil society, a number of officials from North West, and National Department of Environmental Affairs provided oversight.
There were no nominations received to represent Mining, the Cradle of Humankind, or Land occupiers (people living in the Biosphere but not as landowners).
Thirteen other interest groups are presented by 10 board members. Congratulation to those appointed, and thanks to all who made themselves available.
The 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves ended on 17 March in the capital city of Peru with the adoption of a Declaration and a new ten-year Action Plan for UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
On a positive note the Action Plan encourages a 'wider and more active role' for local communities in the management of the reserves along with greater involvement of citizen groups and organizations. The plan also encourages partnerships between science and policy, between national and local governance, public and private sector actors.
Johan West of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve reports that plotting out of a ten-year global roadmap for the protection of biodiversity is considered key to the Sustainable Development Goals and the agreements reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).
Pennisetum setaceum, commonly fountain grass or pronkgras in Afrikaans.
The invader species is used for stabilising mine dumps. Naturally occurring in north Africa, this ornamental grass species has established in KZN and Gauteng, but now is also prevalent in Magaliesberg Biosphere including as far west as Rustenburg. It is one of the most invasive grasses.
Forms stands especially along road verges from where is can easily spread into adjacent natural veld.
Fountain grass spreads from the rhizome and the seeds, and rapidly becomes a significant problem: one season may have scattered clumps, and the next, the growth pattern will be continuous stands. The grass is drought resistance and unpalatable to animals.
Fountain Grass is a Category 1b invasive species, requiring compulsory control – remove and destroy!
The plant can be manually removed but take care to remove all the roots. Herbicide is only effective while the plant is actively growing (has a green appearance).