Partnership bodes well for wetland, says nature group

Friends of Silvermine Nature Area (FOSNA) has partnered with The Umvoto Foundation (TUF) to create a mix of educational and citizen science objectives, while monitoring the health of the Silvermine Nature Area.

Friends of Silvermine Nature Area (FOSNA) has partnered with The Umvoto Foundation (TUF), a non-profit company that helps communities achieve clean and healthy ecosystems.

FOSNA’s chairman and conservation expert, Dave Balfour, says the partnership will bring about a mix of educational and citizen science objectives, while monitoring the health of the Silvermine Nature Area, particularly the wetlands.

“This is a meaningful partnership for FOSNA as we both aim to enhance access to and a better understanding of an ecologically intact environment that everyone can access,” Mr Balfour said.

“Where we, FOSNA, support the authorities (SANParks and the City of Cape Town) to manage the Silvermine River from source to sea, TUF supports the development of community capacity, education and social responsibility in relation to the environment and water resources. The use of science and art to achieve these ends is something we both support,” he said.

Dylan Blake, director of TUF, has been a south peninsula resident for almost 16 years and used to live down the road from the Silvermine wetlands for 10 years.

“I’ve been really impressed with the work FOSNA has done and believe it is a great citizen-driven environmental organisation that could be used as a template for local environmental education and building resilience in our local ecosystems,” Mr Blake said.

TUF will head up the educational process and will work with Grade 7-9 pupils in the broader Silvermine River Valley area encouraging them to get involved and “adopt” a stretch of the river/wetland to keep clean and undertake mini-SASS water health assessments.

“Our goals for environmental education of local learners are to introduce them to the wonderful and unique natural environment they have right on their doorstep and to hopefully inspire some of the learners to pursue careers, whether in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields or transformative art, that can positively influence the social/environmental justice of society,” Mr Blake said.

TUF’s scientists will take independent seasonal water quality samples within the Silvermine River/wetlands for comparison with the City of Cape Town water quality results and build up a water-quality database of the river/wetland to better understand its current state.

Mr Blake will also be giving a field talk about the geology, hydrogeology, geomorphology and hydrology of the Silvermine River valley as part of a speaker series. It is scheduled to take place in February next year.

Speaking to the Echo, Mr Balfour expressed his excitement about the initiative, saying it brought together volunteers and businesses to enhance one of Cape Town’s most important and intact waterways.

“An intact and well-managed Silvermine Nature Area not only adds climate resilience to our city but it also makes it possible for citizens to access and appreciate nature for recreational and aesthetic reasons,” he said.

“The partnership between FOSNA and TUF is exciting because it will strengthen our status as an international wetland city and make it possible for citizens to access and appreciate nature for recreational and aesthetic reasons.”

For more information, contact Dave Balfour at dbalfour@mweb.co.za or on 082 803 6436.