Happy 60th anniversary to the Betty’s Bay Hack Group

Apr 28, 2023 | Activities

The Betty’s Bay Hack Group, the oldest in South Africa, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

It all started in February 1963 when Denys Heesom challenged Betty’s Bay residents to join him in tackling the alien vegetation encroaching on the Betty’s Bay fynbos.

So hacking in Betty’s Bay has been going on for decades, where this passion for restoring the beautiful fynbos by eradicating invasive alien plants has been passed down through generations.

YEARS

According to the present convener, Dave Mourant, residents of Betty’s Bay get involved because they share a common thread: they all love and care for our beautiful natural environment and just want to do their bit to conserve it.

For nature and a workout

Besides getting the fynbos restored, these hacks are also educational, as more people learn about invasive alien plant species and how to deal with them. What’s more, hackers get a good workout in nature, and spend quality time with like-minded, friendly people.

This small group is really making a difference and the Kogelberg Biosphere would like to congratulate them on 60 years of amazing efforts to restore the unique fynbos of Betty’s Bay.

What you should know about invasive species regulations

Invasive species are controlled by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act – Alien Invasive Species (AIS) regulations, which became law in 2014.

The AIS regulations list four categories of invasive species that must be managed, controlled or eradicated.

A property that contains invasive species is a liability to the buyer. The NEMBA regulations state that the seller must prior to the sale notify the purchaser of the presence of listed invasive species on that property.

Image: New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa), by hamishrobertson on @inaturalistorg

A hedging horror for fynbos

This also means that as a property owner, you should take note of the invasive alien species growing in your garden, and remove those that are a threat to our fynbos. For example, the New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa) was introduced to Betty’s Bay in the 1960s as a hedging plant. But since then we’ve come to see just how invasive it is – especially in fynbos.

It’s also difficult to get rid of, with the stumps of trees coppicing if they’re not treated with herbicide. That’s why it’s listed as a category 1a invasive plant, making it illegal to possess or grow in the Kogelberg Biosphere.

That’s only one of the many species of invasive plants in our biosphere, with the likes of pine, hakea and myrtle also taking over many of our fynbos landscapes, creating huge wildfire risks to our towns.

For more information on invasive alien plants, visit www.invasives.org.za

Images: Sandy Immelman, Chris Geldenhuys, James Burns and Natalie Van Wulven.

And to get involved, join any of the area’s hacking groups:

Betty’s Bay Hack Group: 082 923 5366

Pringle Bay & Wednesday Hack Group: 028 273 8588

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