Pupils plough back into Princess Vlei

Taslene de Keller, 16, Melissa Jones, 16, and Antonio Ohlson, 16, from Lotus High School.

If enthusiasm is a good ingredient for growing plants, the Nature Champions Fynbos Garden at Princess Vlei will certainly flourish.

In a project organised by the Princess Vlei Forum, the garden was created last month by 120 pupils from five different schools, who came together to clean litter, clear aliens, and plant 475 plants.

The plants are all part of the Cape Flats Dune Strandveld system and Cape Lowland Freshwater system. Many of these plants are endemic (occurring only in this area) and many are threatened or endangered.

Restoring the natural vegetation will attract pollinators and feeders, and help restore the overall environmental health of the vlei and surrounds, while beautifying the area for the pleasure of recreational users.

The children who took part in the project also got an opportunity to experience a canoe ride on Princess Vlei.

The schools involved are Hyde Park, Levana, Harmony and John Graham primary schools and Lotus High School.

Each school will return to the area to monitor the progress of the plants and do further clearing.

Willie Leith, vice-chairperson of the Princess Vlei Forum, welcomed the children. “Remember, we have only one earth. Mankind cannot live by steel and concrete alone, we are the custodians of nature and we must make sure that there is a balance,” he said.

Mr Leith said children who take part in these projects not only make a huge social contribution, but also learn the pride that comes with taking responsibility for creating and maintaining a healthy environment and beautiful urban spaces.

Belinda Walker, mayco member for community services and special projects, said: “It is so heartening to see the community, and particularly children, involved in such activities for spaces like Princess Vlei where nature is set amidst the urban landscape.

To have had the children involved in this conservation effort is a positive reflection of what citizens in Cape Town take very seriously – this commitment to look after and enhance our City’s natural heritage and resources,” said Ms Walker.

The Princess Vlei Forum encourages residents from around the vlei to visit the site.

Visitors should also respect the efforts of the children, by treading lightly around the plants and not to littering or polluting the area.

Bridget Pitt from the The Princess Vlei Forum thanked the Table Mountain Fund, which made the project possible, the City of Cape Town which supplied tools and expertise and the companies which provided the plants, food and canoe rides on the vlei.

“We would also like to thank the staff and students of the participating schools for making the day a success. We hope that the children’s efforts will soon be complemented by other significant improvements to the area, as the forum works with the City in realising the community’s vision for a nature and heritage park at Princess Vlei,” said Ms Pitt.