AWARENESS Mtunzini has been a hub
of environmental education and awareness from the
time neighbouring farmer Ian Garland started taking
school children and teachers on 'nature outings' on
his farm Twinstreams 60 years ago.
He was giving them a lesson in conservation long before
the concept of ‘global warming’ and ‘climate
change’ had been developed, but his message
was just as important then as it is now: Protect your
environment, take care of your water resources, plant
indigenous trees and enjoy nature. It’s the
same message the Mtunzini Conservancy continues to
spread whether it is informing residents about alien
invader plants growing in their gardens or planting
trees on Arbor day.
Besides the many desktop tasks of monitoring and managing
developments around Mtunzini, the Conservancy also
supports a variety of leisure activities to increase
environmental awareness among town residents - whether
it be tree ID walks, evening talks on subjects ranging
from bats to geology and even a late night tramp in
the swamp in search of interesting frogs. The popular
annual Birding Weekend showcases the area’s
diversity to an increasing number of visitors. The
Conservancy also co-operates with various environmental
organisations and is an active member of the regional
Coastal Working Group and Coastwatch. It liaises with
the management of the neighbouring Umlalazi Nature
Reserve and has often come to its assistance whether
it be through alien plant eradication programmes or
the sponsorship of monkey-proof refuse bins.
Members of the Conservancy are kept up-to-date through
quarterly e-newsletters and regular meetings which
are often sidetracked by lively debate.
Mtunzini Conservancy will be hosting their annual
Birding Weekend at Twinstreams Environmental Centre
at the end of June and it promises the usual sightings
of the area's winter 'specials' as well as two highly
recommended evening presentations by top birder
and photographer Dr Hugh Chittenden.
The Weekend, which offers two outings per day and
covers Ongoye Forest, Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Dlinza
Forest, Amatikulu Nature Reserve and other birding
areas in the district is limited to 24 participants
who are divided into smaller groups each with their
own birding guides.
The 'specials' at this time of the year are: the
Green Barbet, Southern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cinnamon
Dove, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Mangrove Kingfisher,
African Finfoot, Palmnut Vulture, Green Malkoha
and Orange-breasted Waxbill.
Dr Chittenden will be giving presentations on two
of the evenings and
these will look at the rarer and more
interesting birds of the area and offer insights
into the reasons for their restricted distribution.
The cost is R1 950 per person which includes all
meals, lunch packs, activities, entry fees and guides.
Accommodation is extra and is available at Twinstreams
in bungalows or deck cabins (ranging from R100 to
R200pp per night) OR at a B&B
venue in the village of Mtunzini.
Transport and alcoholic beverages are not included
in the cost.(BYOB).
For more information contact Daff
on email or 035 340 1600 or 081 270 3064.
incorporated under Section 21) Reg. no. 2007/006455/08
and having Section 18A status in terms of the
Income Tax Act.
The Mtunzini Conservancy is registered with
SARS as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO number
A SENSE OF PLACE
Mtunzini Conservancy began its early life twenty years
ago as the Arboretum Committee which was formed to
advise the local municipality on 'green' issues and
to rid the town of alien plant invaders. One of the
first projects it undertook was to remove the many
stands of gum trees (Eucalyptus
species) which had been left abandoned around Mtunzini.
So successful was the clearing and rehabilitation
of these areas that the programme became the model
for urban alien plant eradication programmes around
the country and the Conservancy was awarded a top
honour for conservation by the Natal Parks Board.
Mtunzini had an unfair advantage in having been guided
in this quest by conservation pioneer and neighbouring
farmer Dr Ian Garland and today the avenues of indigenous
trees - which are a hallmark of the village - are
an unmarked memorial to the selfless work of this
far-sighted early visionary.
'WHOLE TOWN' APPROACH
the Conservancy’s success in clearing the town
of alien invader plants, its concern shifted to other
issues such as waste management, the threat of new residential
and leisure developments in sensitive locations and
more recently, the proposed
mining by Exxaro Sands for titanium on land adjoining
the southern residential side of town.
The Conservancy has also put years of consultation and
participation into the development of a municipal Land
Use Management System (LUMS) which will guide future
development and ensure that change occurs according
to an approved framework.
Mtunzini, under the guidance of the Conservancy, was
one of the first towns in South Africa to launch the
Mondi Orange Bag Job Creation project where households
began full recycling at source.
The income generated from the collection of recyclable
waste comes back to the Conservancy and is used to motivate
the BEE contractors to further support recycling. Glass
is collected in a similar manner using a trailer sponsored
by the Conservancy and then recycled by Consul Glass.
The Conservancy has always promoted an awareness of
alien plant invaders and the drive is now to get residents
to recognise which of these plants they may be harbouring
in their own gardens.
Every month a potted specimen of an invader plant species
is placed in a prominent position outside the local
supermarket and residents are urged to learn to identify
them and remove them from their properties.
There is also an on-going tree-planting
programme in the town and neighbouring district.
Since 2006 more than 1 000 trees have been planted as
part of the Greening Obanjeni project which has done
much to introduce young people in the Obanjeni tribal
authority to the excitement of conservation and the
know-how to improve their immediate environment.
work of the Conservancy often requires hours of hard
work by dedicated volunteers:
(above) chairperson Barbara Chedzey addresses a public
meeting to raise concerns
about mining close to the town and, right, members
discuss the benefits of
a land-use management plan for future development
A PROUD TRADITION OF WORKING FOR A BETTER ENVIRONMENT