Activity of Botfriends 2020

Activity of Botfriends 2020, Botfriends Chairpersons activity report October 2020

It gives me great pleasure to report on what Botfriends has been doing since our last AGM in May 2019.

I report with reference to the main aims and objectives of Botfriends.

To promote the conservation of the Bot River estuary and the area surrounding the estuary

  • To stimulate public interest in environmental concerns and create pride in our natural heritage
  • To cooperate with other associations with similar aims
  • To assist with and/or co-ordinate with local authorities on environmental issues for the benefit of us all, residents and visitors.

Promoting conservation activity of Botfriends 2020

The need for appropriate clearing of alien vegetation has become of overriding importance in Ward 8 because of the fire hazard, soil erosion, species diversity and wetland destruction.

Bruce Bayer addressed the issue of invasive alien plants with a challenge to locals to contribute money to a Botfriends Challenge. Botfriends subsequently cleared and did follow-up clearing on 30ha of public land with careful costing. We do need to maintain these areas, however, and ideally expand them. We need funds in order to do this and thus our appeal for regular donations.

Botfriends addressed issues of environmental damage such as the Flamingo Bay fence, the mowing of fynbos, drainage issues, pollution and development issues. We have had reasonable success with most of these issues, but they drag on and take so much time that the issues change. Nearly a year ago a notice was issued to remove the illegal Flamingo Bay fence. This has finally been done. Other environmental damage, in the immediate area, has been largely ignored.

Part of the activity of Botfriends 2020, the illegal fence across wetland now final removed
Illegal fence stretching across a wetland partially flooded at high water

( See Environmental damage at Middlevlei; An update/ for a full report)

The municipality has continued mowing some alien-infested areas and thereby damaged the fynbos. Recently this bad practice has been substituted with hand clearing such as down China Marais and Boundary Road, but it still doesn’t solve the problem and has probably has not sustainably addressed the problems of the fire hazard and alien clearing. In contrast, the area cleared by Botfriends on China Marais show a good and stable stand of fynbos with a low fire hazard. This took 2 labourers 4 hours to follow up. This is adjacent to the area where aliens were recently chopped out by the municipality. They were already re-growing within four weeks and will pose a greater fire hazard within a year, costing even more to clear again.


Botfriends has completed a major project proposal with an analysis of the geology, soils and levels of alien infestation of all the surrounds of the estuary to expand the cleared area from 30ha to about 3000ha in Fisherhaven, Rooisand and Hawston. This proposal has been distributed to some funding agencies and we are trying to get initial funding for a marketing/fund raiser. The documentation for the Botfriends Alien Clearing Program (BACP) is available on this website in the Botfriends News section. A proposal for green corridors linking the estuary and sea to the mountains and to one another has been made, for the free movement of both fauna and flora.

Large activity of Botfriends 2020 was finding the wetlands in dense alien vegetation and drawing the proposed corridors
Planned corridors for the east bank of the estuary, linking wetland areas
The Paddavlei corridor (green) follows the Paddavlei River from the estuary through Hawston, linking to the Hoek van die Berg corridor which then links to the mountains and the sea

Fisherhaven-Hawston corridor (blue) links the Paddavlei to the mountains above the red line. It includes an existing green area and through the Afdaks development.

Afdaks corridor (red) links this part of the estuary with a branch along a tributary of the Afdaks River up to the mountain catchment.

China Marais purple strip links cleared land with existing green areas., and to the corridor.

Stimulating public interest activity of Botfriends 2020

In our regular newsletters we have posted articles and comments on climate change, on Greta Thunberg’s comments of note, the elephant farm development and a monthly record, with comments, on Fisherhaven rainfall. News items have included the wild horses, developments such as Afdaks and the Yacht club, the biological invasions report, the biodiversity report, how to eliminate alien invasives, data gathered from the Botfriends Challenge, fire, tortoises, the Paddavlei in Hawston, the bypass road in Hermanus, estuary management and breaching, estuary shoreline rehabilitation, biochar, owl and bat boxes, rubble and waste management and damage to previously cleared areas by mowing, hacking or use of a digger loader. (well covered in Botfriends Newsletters)

There is a link to Botfriends active Facebook page .  Some posts regularly get over 600 hits. The Kogelberg post had over 23 000 hits and 3 500 downloads. Botfriends also post events and comments of items that may be of interest to friends of the estuary.

Botfriends website contained information and posts on numerous environmental issues. Unfortunately, it was discontinued, and Greenheart managed to save many of the posts and contains documentation on all the newsletters, fire: a natural force, biodiversity and biological invasions, the Botfriends challenge and a general environmental section including the estuary breach

To address a wider public in the Overstrand, we have launched articles in the Village News of 25 February 2020 about conservation of estuaries and wetlands and in the Hermanus Times of 20 March 2020 on the occasion of the National Water Week.

Xmas trees and other initiatives

The Xmas trees were made available again in December 2019.  A worker and I cut down invasive plants from Rooisand Horse Ranch and transported them to Fisherhaven. R1600 in donations was received with some help from both committee members and non-committee members. Thank you to Wendy and Jean McFall and to Madelaine Stone for their friendly assistance.  An “after party” for the committee was held at the Blue Roof to thank the Exec for their commitment and hard work during the year.  We spent R848 of Botfriends funds.  Some of the money raised during the evening came from the “stoepsitters” at the Blue Roof who joined in the “gees” of the event, even though they didn’t want to buy xmas trees!

May I say that it is a pleasure to see an increase in the number of private plots and gardens in our area, where an effort has been made to eliminate aliens and contribute to the beauty of our surroundings. A special thank you from Botfriends to those that have spent private funds on public land to clear them of aliens, thus extending the work of the organisation. Some of the plot clearing, however, has been done in a way that stimulates more vigorous regrowth, increasing the cost of future clearing.

Co-operation with others activity of Botfriends 2020

We have regularly attended the BREF (Bot River Estuary Forum) and Ward 8 meetings and reported back to the Executive on matters of interest. Contacts and reports have been made with private land owners such as Benguela Cove, the Horse Ranch on the west bank of the estuary and Hermanus River Farm. Botfriends acknowledges Benguela Cove for its environmental inputs in establishing well-looked-after indigenous vegetation along a large section of the estuary. The breaching of the Bot (both artificial and natural) and the resultant effect on the environment has been extensively discussed on Facebook, (over 20 posts) the website and in the newsletter. 

The estuary breach of 2020, some 40 visits and many publications, part of the activity of Botfriends 2020.
Estuary breach of 2020

Klaus Schmitt and I attended a forum on “Our fresh water” by our “Mother” NGO, WESSA. Presentations were on the hydrology of the west coast and the Cape Town/Kogelberg aquifer. Valuable contacts were made. Kate Snaddon gave an interesting talk on ‘Wetlands in Dry Lands’. Wetland recovery and rehabilitation is a major part of the Botfriends proposal

Part of the activity of Botfriends 2020, was active participation on the Paddavlei Eco Group, which works within the Botfriends area, has received limited funding from the Table Mountain Conservation Fund and some work is being done on the Paddavlei, including the removal of over 25m3 of trash, clean-ups around Hawston and some alien removal. Progress is slow but moving in the right direction.

The Paddavlei, one of the main wetlands in the Botfriends area.
Paddavlei before extensive invasion of reeds, now covering 75% of the Paddavlei

Local networking and advocacy

Botfriends has always offered to help with training, management and skills within the Overstrand and made their environmental data available to other local institutions and government.

As mentioned at the last AGM, Ward 8 is particularly bad in NOT having the environmental laws applied in the last decade. Works done are usually emergency measures, which often make the environmental problems worse. There are numerous documented examples in Fisherhaven.

Wetlands have been destroyed or overrun by invasive plants. The fire risk to urban infrastructure is very high and the new policy document on ‘Creating and maintaining fire wise vacant erven’ does not comply with environmental laws. It does not differentiate between stable, clean stands of fynbos and invaded vegetation areas. This criticism has been brought forward by Botfriends, Cape Nature and the DEA&DP.

Botfriends wrote a detailed comment on the first draft, repeated it on the second draft, then met with the fire department with the letters from Cape Nature and DEA&DP in hand.  The only resultant change was made to the title of the document, which now limits the proposal to vacant erven, whereas in Ward 8 the major fire threat is actually posed by public land and by private land surrounding urban areas.  We have sent letters to the Mayor, environmental department and fire department, without response. A 2020 draft has been made available; some changes have been made, but a strict application of this proposal will lead to an ecological desert with high fire risk, expensive to maintain. A copy of the comments on the 2020 draft has been forwarded to all relevant agencies. The public comment period is closed and the document has been approved at ward committees.  

An environmental damage case on the Afdaks development proposal had been forwarded to the Green Scorpions nearly two years ago and was squashed by them. In the last Afdaks Development proposal, this issue was raised by Cape Nature and the proposal sanctioned for their environmental damage.


A big thank you to the people who contributed to the Botfriends Challenge and especially to Bruce and Daphne Bayer for initiating it. With the AGM’s permission, we are conferring honorary membership of Botfriends to Bruce and Daphne. We have established a good relationship with the FRA and talked with them on projects such as the walkway below Riverside and on Seaway, both FRA projects. Botfriends did some of the clearing of the pathway and stabilised the pathway over the sand dune, which was eroding badly. We are in ongoing discussions with the FRA about drainage, road maintenance, clearing and rubbish/rubble dumping in Fisherhaven.

Thank you to Rob McDavid, Hinke Nixon and the rest of the FRA for personal donations to the challenge and for passing on R2000 of the Overbot Conservancy money for the challenge.

The boards around Fisherhaven, on Botfriends activity 2020, on cleared challenge sites, were sponsored by Remax, at a cost of more than R5000.  The feedback has been very positive and appears to have helped to increase our membership.

The committee which you elected had some changes. Adele Snyman and Linda Woolnough withdrew early on and Philip Howes never attended meetings. We welcomed Wendy Mc Fall onto the committee as Vice Chairperson. One of our members, Klaus Schmitt, put in a great deal of work on the BACP document while in Germany.  On his return to SA, he was co-opted onto the committee and made a significant contribution.

Thanks to my committee for the work they have done and especially to Renee who organises the meetings, keeps in touch with members, produces the newsletter and proofreads my reports. To Wendy for her support, help and enthusiasm, many thanks.   Thank you to the people who have assisted here tonight, with admin, with organising and providing the eats and wine and to Johan Retief for loaning the projector. Finally, we would really appreciate those attending making themselves available for election to the committee. We need all the assistance we can get in keeping environmental concerns on the various agendas in the Bot River estuary area.

Stay safe and all the best to the incoming committee.

View of the Bot River Estuary from the mountain catchment and both east and west banks of the Estuary

The Botfriends aims & objectives report, chairpersons report 2019 are available on this site.

Latest Posts

© 2019-2023 Greenheart Projects. All rights reserved.