One man’s trash is not the environment’s treasure

Local initiative in support of World Environmental Clean Up Day

On Saturday 15 September, 30 enthusiastic volunteers joined forces to spring-clean the grasslands around Haenertsburg. This initiative was organised by the Friends of the Haenertsburg Grassland (FroHG).  

What was once a vast haven for indigenous flora and fauna, has by the hand of man been reduced to a few remaining small patches of Woodbush Granite Grassland (WGG), the largest of which (about 190 ha) encloses Haenertsburg. In 2011, the WGG ecosystem was declared critically endangered and now enjoys formal protection. To state it bluntly, it not only means that this is the last place on earth where one could enjoy this specific ensemble of vegetation, but also that it faces an extremely high risk of irreversible transformation. It is for this reason that FroHG serves as custodian of the WGG and that the group of volunteers gladly set aside their Saturday to scrabble around for rubbish.

The day kicked off with refreshments served by Joan Provis at the Haenertsburg library. Volunteers were then briefed on the day’s task by Quentin Hagens (Vice-Chair of FroHG). Eight sectors were identified to which teams were dispatched. It was exciting to follow the various teams through their photos and comments on WhatsApp during the day. Bakkies piled with rubbish on the way to the dump, happy smiles as yet more bags were filled. And even time to record unexpected treats, like a beautiful Green Water Snake lurking in the grass among the first spring flowers. Altogether, approximately 10 giant bags were filled with rubbish, comprising a large range of different items: glass bottles, cans, plastic bags, building rubble, sweet wrappers, PVC pipes, old shoes, even plastic bags filled with used nappies, to name but a few. Keep in mind, some nappies take up to 500 years to biodegrade.