Plants laid out. Photo by Sean Altern.
Plants laid out. Photo by Sean Altern.

Vergelegen supports Biodiversity Day with R12 million project

By Kristin Engel Time of article published May 21, 2021

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Cape Town - An environmental project was recently completed by Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West to rehabilitate eroded watercourses.

The project has saved the Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos vegetation along the Lourens River which could have been badly affected by sediment washing onto the area and provided both short-term and long-term job opportunities.

Vergelegen risk and commercial manager Leslie Naidoo said the environmental endeavour involved the storing and replanting of 15 000 indigenous plants.

“The project halted sediment contamination of the Lourens River, which is the only river in South Africa where a section of adjoining land is a protected natural environment,” said the manager.

Naidoo said the project was started after extreme concern was expressed about the erosion exposed since the wildfire in January 2017, and the rehabilitation finally got under way in August last year.

“There was agreement after discussing with an environmental consultant, a specialist engineer and a wetland expert that without suitable interventions, there would be degradation resulting in escalating and irreversible ecological damage and huge financial costs.

Vergelegen nursery. Photo by Sean Altern.

“This project has been a major undertaking, but it has ensured that we were able to control the erosion that would have had an extremely damaging impact on the land,” said Naidoo.

The risk and commercial manager said the rescue of plants and the replanting took place over four months. A contract team of 15 - mostly women - from NCC Environmental Services was responsible for the task.

“The project also led to another 10 staff from a local contractor being kept busy for one month installing netting to secure silt in place, as well as the permanent appointment of a horticultural student who assisted the teams and is now part of the gardens upkeep team,” said Naidoo.

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