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25 May 2015 | By John Measey

A day of interactions between researchers of the Centre for Invasion Biology and students of Environmental Humanities

What would researchers at the Centre for Invasion Biology and students of the UCT’s new Environmental Humanities MPhil course have to say to each other? An awful lot as it turned out!

The two groups met at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve (CapeNature) among fynbos vegetation with Brian van Wilgen, John Measey, Karen Esler, Mirijam Gaertner and Sarah Davies available to interpret our view of the natural end of the Eerste River. The view of fynbos up the valley contrasted dramatically with the transformed and invaded lower end. The walk progressed in autumnal sunshine alongside a progressively invaded river as the talk turned from the costs and benefits of plantation forestry to people’s changing views of our natural surroundings over the years since Jonkershoek was a forestry station. The talk wasn’t all vegetative, as we toured the historic Jonkershoek fish hatchery (1893) and heard tales of fish and frogs and a former director of the Department of Nature Conservation who sent the former all over the country and the latter all over the world.

At lunch we were joined by Lesley Green, course coordinator at UCT, Dave Richardson, John Wilson and Vernon Visser who added insight to the growing list of invasive alien organisms encountered. In the afternoon, we passed from vineyards to vagrants as the rural Eerste River ran into peri-urban Stellenbosch. What do we do when the town’s emblem is an invasive species? How should we choose which species to tackle first? How can management keep up with species jumping the garden wall? The list of potential research questions grew and the conversations became more insightful as the walk neared an end at the Coetzenberg sports grounds.

Our thanks go to Patrick Shone (CapeNature) for his permission to enter the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.

Meek, C. S., Richardson, D. M., & Mucina, L. (2010). A river runs through it: land-use and the composition of vegetation along a riparian corridor in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Biological Conservation143(1), 156-164.