In late 2012 Kloof Conservancy initiated the Molweni River Health Schools Project which involves seven high schools in the Kloof, Hillcrest, Wyebank, Upper and Lower Molweni and Inanda areas testing the health of the rivers in the Molweni River catchment using the miniSASS system.
DUCT through Penny Rees and Pandora Long were instrumental in helping to define the project and prepare the groundwork. Pandora gave talks on the miniSASS system and also did a presentation on the uMngeni Source to Sea walk to motivate the schools involvement in the project.
Testing is done twice per year in February and August and the school teams have a collective feedback session at the end of each testing to compare notes and highlight what they have learnt. At one of the feedback sessions the Tholulwazi Secondary School team expressed concern about litter and people washing clothes in the river near their monitoring point. It was also noted that houses were being built very close to the river.
This sparked an idea to create a Molweni River Community Park to protect the river. In November 2013 Kloof Conservancy formally initiated a project to construct the community park. A community meeting was arranged through an extensive support network which was built up as part of the River Health Project.
Education Officers from Umgeni Water, Metro Water, DSW, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Natural Resources, Stormwater and Catchment Management and KZN Department of Agriculture facilitated the meeting which unanimously accepted the concept of the park The agreement is to create a park approximately 50m either side of the Molweni River.
The riverine area will be cleared of invasive alien plants and the indigenous riverine vegetation re-established.
The park will consist mainly of indigenous riverine vegetation with small sections of formal park for recreation purposes. The primary objective from a conservancy perspective is the protection of the river and the biodiversity of the area but it is also an ideal opportunity to combine environmental objectives with the provision of benefits for the community.
The community will benefit through the provision of an attractive recreational facility as well as an educational facility for the local schools who can use the park as a safe environment for education on eco-systems. Plans include the construction of a path on both sides of the river so that the park can be enjoyed for walks and the local schools can use it for cross country training and events.
Temporary employment opportunities will be created during the clearing operation and permanent jobs will be created for the ongoing maintenance of the park. An initial section was cleared in early December 2013 and work will continue in 2014 with funding from the Extended Public Works Programme (through the Durban Green Corridor) and Kloof Conservancy’s own funds.
iDube Landscapes have been contracted to manage the invasive alien clearing project. DUCT is providing advice on the management process.
This project is part of the Conservancy’s outreach efforts to extend its “green footprint” into areas which do not have formal conservation practices.