It has been a busy year for FOSTER, what with all the mopping up to do after last year’s fire, opening up some new paths in the Cape St Francis Reserve, and the usual multitude of tasks required to run an efficient and effective organization with a complex mandate. But let’s not whinge; instead let me highlight three positive stories coming out of the past year.
Firstly, our committee was delighted and dumbfounded by the massive response to our plea for funding this August. Our membership ballooned to over three hundred (the highest ever) and we have raised more than R80 000. Thank you friends of FOSTER; we are hugely appreciative of your confidence in us to spend your money wisely and efficiently.
Secondly, our new members, recruited last year, have greatly strengthened the effectiveness of our committee. Tasks that languished on the “to do” list for ages, have now been implemented. They have introduced a wonderful infusion of new ideas and enthusiasm. Thank you Debbi, Garry, Jenny and Jal and Paul. We were sad to lose Susie McGarvie when she moved to Bedford.
Thirdly, after seven years of excellent service, Lilian Baker has resigned as co-ordinator of the Walk on the Wild Side Educational Project. Thousands of learners from local and regional schools benefitted from this superb service. The facilities will continue to be used as they are now mainstreamed in the activity programmes of many schools. Well done Lilian – a proud legacy.
Membership and responsibilities are as follows:
Richard Cowling Chair; Proclamation; Events
Lilian Baker Treasurer; Outreach
Dave Bowmer Reserve management
Joan Brady Secretary; Membership and Marketing
Jal Rigaard Marketing; Infrastructure
John Elliot Fire management; Events
Garry Milford Fundraising; Events
Jenny Rayment Fund raising; Events
Debbi Hudson Fund raising; Events
Paul Nicholson Fund raising; Events
Lilian Baker reports: We would like to reiterate that FOSTER is registered with SARS as a public benefit organization, in terms of section 30 of the income tax act. Donations made to us are tax deductible.
We continue to benefit from generous donations from supporters, despite the hard times; over the past year (since our last AGM) we attracted donations totalling R115,765.22, which included donations of R79,265.22 made by members in response to an urgent appeal by the Chair at the beginning of August, when it became apparent that FOSTER’s expenses were fast outstripping its income, and that funds would dry up in the very near future unless urgent action was taken. Special thanks are due to the following donors who have donated amounts in 2016/17 of R500 or more, with many members donating more than once:
Funds raised at FOSTER events are reported on in the next section.
Projects and events
Lilian Baker reports: FOSTER again hosted the ever popular FOSTER Fun Run – held on the 28th December last year – which attracted approximately 180 to 200 entrants. The event netted an amount of R12,068.24 after expenses, around R7,000.00 less than during 2016. A huge vote of thanks to our loyal committee member, Debbi Hudson, of Kouga Print, for free and discounted printing to the value of R2,262.94. Her generous gesture is very much appreciated.
After much deliberation, and with some sadness, the committee has decided to discontinue the Fun Run.
The amount of work and the expenses involved just aren’t worth the funds raised now that there are so many other similar events over the festive period. Our efforts will be directed at the Golf Day instead.
We are very grateful that The CSF Resort has offered to hold a run/walk on our usual date (28th December) and to donate the proceeds to FOSTER . Further details will be published closer to the time.
Garry Milford reports: We have secured the 26th December for the golf day which is right in the middle of the holiday season. We need all the members of the committee to spread the word so we can get a field of 120 to 140 players. The committee is hard at work securing sponsor’s and if anyone knows of generous sponsor’s, please let us know.
Walk on the Wild Side
Lilian Baker reports: With a heavy heart Lilian decided that she would not be available to run the Walk on the Wild Side Educational Project during 2017, although the trail can be used by anyone who wishes to do so. The Interpretative Signage boards have not been removed, and our maintenance team keeps the trail well-pruned and the reserve free of alien regrowth and litter. Recent storms and high seas have, however, taken their toll on the boardwalks along the trail, and they are in need of repair.
Since the last Annual General Meeting, Lilian conducted her last two excursions. 60 learners and three educators from Graslaagte Primary School in Humansdorp, and 27 pre-primary learners and two educators from Talhado Pre-primary School in Sea Vista participated. Dave Bowmer led an excursion of young people participating in a Youth Development Programme under the auspices of the Wind Farm. Photographs of these three excursions were taken by Dave Bowmer, some of which are displayed on the website. Residents and visitors to Cape St. Francis use the trail daily.
The FOSTER intern, Dawie Cupido, is also no longer available to participate in the programme.
Marketing and membership
Joan Brady and Jal Rigaard report: Our total membership for 2016 was approximately 200 members. By July 2017 we had a mere 90 members and donations were way down on 2016 numbers…things were looking pretty dismal for FOSTER.
Richard then wrote a ‘desperate appeal’ letter which was sent to our newsletter mailing list early in August and posted on our Facebook page. It was a hard hitting report about our serious predicament.
It was also published by The St Francis Chronicle and St Francis Today. It obviously hit the mark; we had a mind blowing response and in the space of 6 weeks thereafter our membership increased to over 300 (our highest ever) and our funds had grown by over R80 000.00! We are thrilled to have so many new members and overwhelmed by the generosity of donors. Every membership is significant.
Newsletters continue to go out quarterly and all the latest news and our reserve videos are available on our Facebook page.
FOSTER has over 400 followers on Facebook, and the numbers are growing steadily. The latest camera-trap video reached over 1800 people on Facebook. Social media provide an opportunity for greater co-ordination and reach with other conservation organisations in the greater St Francis area, not just our reserve system.
The 10 wildlife clips on FOSTER’ Youtube channel attracted nearly 1000 views. The memorial bench policy has been updated and placed on our website. Jal wrote an article on the discovery of the new species of leaproach in the Irma Booysen Reserve, which appeared in the St Francis Chronicle, St Francis Today, Kouga Express, and in a FOSTER newsletter.
Dave Bowmer reports: FOSTER maintains the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve, the Seal Bay Nature Reserve, the Seal Point Nature Reserve and the Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve, which together comprise approximately 330 ha of indigenous vegetation. FOSTER’s core management tasks are the removal of alien regrowth, the maintenance of the path network (including litter removal), the maintenance of reserve signage, maintaining system of firebreaks, and keeping the roads through the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve and in the Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve accessible for fire and other emergency services. General maintenance costs amounted to R86 080.00 since the last Annual General Meeting.
In the Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve, the trail system off St. Francis Drive has been widened and cleaned of Rooikrantz regrowth. A new trail system has been established. The new trail links the bypass dune system with Shelly Beach, through the limestone cliffs.
In the the Seal Bay and the Seal Point Nature Reserves the trails have been maintained and rooikrantz regrowth pulled out.
In the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve the trails have been maintained and the rooikrantz regrowth has been pulled out. The firebreak system around the reserve is currently in the process of being cut back and cleaned.
Thanks to Dave and his team for looking after our reserves in such a hugely effective and efficient way.
We look forward to suggestions from our members about reserve management activities. Please contact Dave or Richard.
John Elliot reports: As reported in the 2016 report, FOSTER has every intention of utilising controlled burns in the reserve areas to reduce the massive fuel load with its associated risk to wildlife and private property and allow the regeneration of the flora that occurs in pyroclimatic biomes. However after the wild fires that swept through the area we had decided to postpone the burns to ensure that fauna had adequate areas for safe refuge.
The excellent regeneration of flora over the past eighteen months has allowed us to re think the time frame on this critical matter and as a result, we decided that an area of the Irma Booysen reserve and the adjacent section of Rocky Coast Farm could be burnt this year. Plans were made for establishing breaks for the controlled burn but the non-availability of the large tractor-drawn brush cutter postponed this.
We were then informed by Working on Fire that due to the massive fires experienced in this region around the Woodridge and Longmore Forest area earlier this year, a total ban on controlled burns had been put in place in the region for a period extending to the end of October 2017.
Quite frankly we are now in a weather period where the perfect days required to perform this task are few and far between and the risk factor is raised. With this in mind, it is prudent to wait until March next year.
We will however proceed with the necessary preparation of the area to be burnt.
There has been a fantastic and positive response from the locals in this regard and our only wish is that the local authority had the capacity and equipment to help us in this work and take some of the pressure off FOSTER and in particular Dave Bowmer, who does all the work in the reserves.
Lastly we need to note that the authority responsible for the maintenance of the road reserves has quite simply failed to respond positively to letters highlighting the overgrown state of the road reserves and the fire risk that they pose. This, as we approach summer and the dry period of the year raises serious questions regarding their commitment to their responsibility and their capacity to handle the work entrusted to them.
Responding to development pressures
FOSTER is a member of the Thuyspunt Alliance which is not against nuclear power. However, it is concerned about the significant social, economic and environmental impacts on the greater St Francis Area as a result of the proposal for the largest industrial development in the Southern Hemisphere. The Alliance’s stance is to follow procedure by responding as an Interested and Affected Party and by rigorous and scientific interrogation of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for the nuclear power station and the transmission lines. The Chair has provided input on the Final Draft Report and the Final Report of the EIA for the nuclear power station. The response we received from the Environmental Assessment Practitioner was disappointing, to put it mildly.to our comments
The Alliance has retained an Environmental Legal Adviser to ensure that legal requirements are being met in the entire process. While the Alliance continues to do an enormous amount of voluntary work, it would benefit from donations to maintain the legal advice. We urge members to support this good cause. Contact Trudi Malan.
FOSTER now has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kouga Municipality which confers a mandate to FOSTER for managing the reserve system. This is a significant breakthrough and we acknowledge the support of our mayor, Elza van Lingen. However, this does not mean that our reserves are proclaimed in terms of conservation legislation. As we pointed out last year, Dr Wentzel Coetzer, Biodiversity Stewardship Facilitator for The Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) project, is hard at work facilitating this for our reserves. Unfortunately, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency is not willing to assume responsibility for these reserves, including those parts of the Cape St Francis nature reserve that are officially proclaimed.
FOSTER has submitted a draft Memorandum of Understanding to Transnet in order to formalise our stewardship of the eastern part of Seal Point nature reserve, which is owned by this company. We are awaiting a response from them.
Financial statements (balance sheet and income and expenditure report) for the period 1/3/16 to 28/2/17 are attached to this report.
Thanks to Lilian for her impeccable financial records – much appreciated.
I am pleased to report on another highly successful year for FOSTER. Many thanks to our committee members for their dedication and hard work. Given the importance of a healthy reserve system to our well being (and the value of our properties), we urge you keep your membership in good order and to donate funds. In return, we will ensure cost-effectiveness, accountability and innovation.