Wednesday Field Trips (half day)

Field Trip 01: Coastal Dunes

By Adriaan Grobler & Richard Cowling

Coastal dunes are present everywhere except Antarctica, but are particularly well-developed in Mediterranean-Climate Ecosystems (MCEs), including the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). In MCEs, coastal dunes comprise small, fragmented and dynamic features with nutritionally imbalanced, excessively drained and sandy soils. These characteristics, along with summer drought and salt-laden winds, pose many challenges for plant colonization and persistence. MCE dune floras are therefore likely to be distinctive with a high proportion of endemic habitat specialists. Globally, these habitats are severely threatened by alien plants, infrastructure development, tourism demands and rising sea levels due to climate change. During our field trip, we will visit the dunes of the West Coast National Park near Langebaan — a near-pristine example of a Holocene coastal dune landscape in the CFR. Attendees will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with several plant species endemic to dunes along this stretch of coastline, as well as the various habitats associated with coastal dune landscapes (e.g. rocky coasts, sandy beaches, hummock dunes, mobile sand plumes, stabilized dunes and coastal wetlands) in the CFR. While out in the field, we will discuss the ecology and evolution of the flora associated with these landscapes, as well as challenges for conservation of coastal dunes. We encourage delegates from other MCEs to join, as we hope to highlight similarities and differences in the evolution and ecology of MCE coastal dunes, and to glean from each other ways in which to tackle conservation issues in these ecosystems in the face of anthropogenic global change.

Field Trip 02: !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre

by Bianca Tango

Visit !Khwa ttu an award winning San Heritage Centre, the only Heritage Centre in the world dedicated to the San. Spend a full day and meet the San guides to tell their story, in their own words. This story is one that few people know, but it is one that everyone will recognize.

  • Drive on an open vehicle past herds of eland, zebra and springbok. Continue by foot through unspoilt fynbos to a replica village for a compelling insight into the traditional lifestyle and ancient survival skills of the San.
  • Walk with San guides through the fynbos gardens. The tour includes a memorable home brew indigenous tea ceremony and learning about unique healing qualities of indigenous plants. Story telling in one or more of the click-punctuated San languages, is an unforgettable part of the tour.
  • The guided tour in the new thee building Heritage Centre is a must see! The exhibition and guided experience engage body and sensesas much as the mind. They demonstrate the skills and knowledge of the San, telling a fascinating story of the origins of modern man on the Southern African coastline.
  • Lunch will be served in our restaurant which is well known for freshly prepared and locally sourced food.
  • A browse throughour craft shop calls for unique San handcrafted gifts found nowhere else.

Pre / Post Congress Field Trips

Field Trip 03: West Coast National Park

by John Compton

This field trip will explore the relation of plant biomes and geological substrate in the West Coast National Park. The park contains Cape seashore vegetation on active dunes along the coast, Cape salt marsh along the fringes of Langebaan Lagoon, as well as granite and dune strandveld biomes. Dune strandveld is the dominant biome in the park, growing on widespread calcareous dune sand that ranges in age from Recent to Pleistocene. Plants vary within the dune strandveld related to age of dune deposits, extent of leaching of carbonate from the sand and the extent of exposed calcrete (a pedogenic limestone rock). Aspects that will be discussed include source of nutrients to the plants (substrate, wind-blown, nutrient islands, role of fire), alien invasive species, soil processes (calcrete, silcrete) and groundwater hydrology.

Field Trip 04: West Coast Fossil Park

by Lynette Munro

See the fossils of bears, sabre-tooth cats, short-necked giraffes and the many other exotic animals which inhabited the west coast area some 5 million years ago. The tour will be contextualised through an introductory presentation from Pippa Haarhoff, manager of the Fossil Park, who has been connected to this site for more than 40 years. Pippa will be available for discussion throughout the day. Following the walking tour of the dig site, the tour will conclude with discussion concerning present land transformation, the current development pressures, and the role conservation can play in the green economy through transforming people’s lives through nature

Field Trip 05: Steenbras dam catchment area

by Jeanne-Louise Wiese

The CoCT is currently developing a wellfield for groundwater abstraction from the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) and is located within the Steenbras Nature Reserve and Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.Even though the CoCT had envisaged to use this area for bulk water supply infrastructure,the sensitivity of the natural environment in this area makes it difficult to execute and implement the planned drought resilience interventions.The CoCT have also been issued with a Section 30(A) Directive in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), Act 107 of 1998, as a response to Provincial and National disaster declarations issued during the 2017 drought.This Directive allows them to undertake certain activities without undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, however it also requires certain principles and preventative measures to be considered, reviewed and implemented.The site visit would aim to showcase the avoidance, prevention, mitigation and offset approaches followed within a very sensitive environmentduring the planning, construction and rehabilitation of the wellfield development at Steenbras dam.

Field Trip 06: A Review of biological control in Mediteranean Enviroments

by Nicola Kruger

Invasive alien plants pose a major threat to biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a mediterranean ecosystem.Large shrubs and trees from South America, Australia and Europe have invaded the mediterranean shrublands changing soil nutrient cycles, increasing fire loads, altering fire cycles, overshadowing and outcompeting indigenous vegetation and impacting water supplies.Successful use of biological control to manage the impact and threat of invasive alien Acacia species from Australia and several South American Fabaceae will be discussed and demonstrated by Professor John Hoffmann who has a wealth of experience in this field.Delegates will be able to learn about how to manage similar problems in their home environments, for example in Portugal where biological control of Australian Acacia species has been initiated.