Field monitors ready to start fynbos conservation

Participants in the Flower Valley Agulhas Plain Fynbos Monitoring Project received their Field Monitor Certificates on 11 December. Farm workers, flower pickers and invasive alien clearers, among others, were rewarded for attending the course over the past six months, at a ceremony held on Flower Valley Farm.

The trainees were taught three modules – Fynbos Ecology, Sustainable Harvesting and Research & Monitoring. The training formed part of the Agulhas Plain Fynbos Monitoring Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (implemented by the United Nations Development Programme). The Grootbos Foundation presented the training.

According to Grootbos Foundation’s Sean Privett at the ceremony, the work for these students starts now. “The training is just the key; it’s how you put this to use afterwards, and how you incorporate the knowledge, that matters. We want to involve people on the ground to do the field monitoring, to ensure the information compiled stays here on the Agulhas Plain.”

Now that the training is complete, the participants will start to use their skills to help researchers glean more information on fynbos. The idea is to spot potential trends and threats to fynbos, and feed that information through to a research coordinator soon to be appointed by Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

Trainees will also be able to monitor the impacts of invasive alien clearing on fynbos landscapes. Many alien clearers are part of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Project, and as such, will be clearing invasive plants on natural veld over the next three years.

According to the Project Coordinator, Roger Bailey, this provides the ideal opportunity through which local people are capacitated and their skills integrated into broader coordinated research and monitoring practices, which will ultimately inform future fynbos landscape management. “The field monitors will be able to help us improve our knowledge of fynbos, and help us see how the invasive alien clearing efforts are benefiting the fynbos and natural veld.”

Heather Dalton