Betty’s Bay project, South Africa
For 36 years a dedicated group of residents have been fighting the same battle - to rid the Betty’s Bay area of alien vegetation. This year BP joined the fight by donating money towards fuel and oil for chainsaws as part of its commitment to preserve the environment.
Betty’s Bay is 96km from Cape Town and occupies a narrow strip of land between the sea and the Kogelberg mountains. Boasting three fresh water lakes and, on the eastern side, the Palmiet River, Betty’s Bay is part of the internationally proclaimed Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. This relatively small area is considered to have the highest bio-diversity of indigenous plants in the world but it is infested with alien vegetation – plants which do not occur naturally but were imported from other continents by the movement of people and goods.
In 1963 a group of residents and weekenders decided to tackle the problem and started a ‘hacking’ group - volunteers prepared to brave all weather and, armed with chainsaws and loppers, physically hack out encroaching plants. For more than 30 years, the 'hacking' group, some of whom are are now in their sixties, has met on the first Sunday of every month, targeting different communal areas of Betty’s Bay. The 444th meeting of the hack group took place on December 5, 1999.
Invasive plants that are targeted include New Zealand Christmas trees, Rooikrants, Myrtle, Pittosporum, Black Wattle, Port Jackson, Spider Gum, Stinkboon and Acacia Elata. The Betty’s Bay hack group is a part of the Kogelberg branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa but attendance is open to any volunteer. Late last year the Betty’s Bay hack group’s tireless efforts in preserving the natural environment were recognised when they received a Cape Times/MTN Centenary Awards certificate.