Monday, 27 January 2014

Pigeon Valley and work between Friends and municipal management

The Friends of Pigeon Valley are affiliated to WESSA through the Durban Branch.  Their work focuses on Pigeon Valley Park in Glenwood.  This small (10 hectare) nature reserve is becoming a model of collaboration between local residents, organised through the Friends, and the management, which is under the Natural Resources Division of the eThekwini Metro.
The reserve is unique; it has large numbers of Celtis Mildbraedii, the Natal Elm, which is one of the country's rarest trees, and of Oxyanthus Pyriformis, the Forest Loquat.  It attracts a remarkably diverse range of urban wildlife, such as the Spotted Ground-Thrush, an endangered species, in winter.
The work of the Friends includes clearing of invasive alien plants in the reserve and in neighbouring areas.  We are now working with the Natural Resources management to remove such plants also in the reservoir next to the reserve.  This is under Durban Water, but there is now an agreement to control the management so that there is not excessive mowing, thus creating the conditions for optimal biodiversity.
The Friends have led the introduction of tree labels throughout the reserve, and work with management on problems that arise from time to time, like security or erosion.

A Green Twinspot in the park greets the New Year

We believe that this collaboration is enhancing biodiversity in the area, with sightings of rare wildlife frequently in the last few years.  There are roughly 100 locally indigenous trees in the park, and occasionally a new plant is found.  The role of the Friends is crucial in identifying and addressing threats to this biodiversity.

A magnificent Celtis Mildbraedii in the park

Increasingly we see our work as enhancing biodiversity.  This is not 'conservation' of the past; Pigeon Valley has changed hugely over the years, and at present is perhaps more effective with regard to biodiversity than it was 20 years ago.  
A Red-capped Robin-Chat waits to bathe after a Buff-spotted Flufftail, 
the rarely seen inhabitant of the park, January 2014

Boisduval's False Acrea

Birdlife Port Natal is now seeing Pigeon Valley as an example of how people can organise to take ahead conservation that sustains birds and other wildlife. Pigeon Valley is a tiny part of the eThekwini Metro, but it can serve as an example of how officials and residents can work in harmony.

Another seldom-seen inhabitant, the Blue Duiker