As one of the last remaining bio-systems of its kind along the KZN coastline, the Sibaya coastal dune forest is a hidden gem on our doorstep. In charged of overseeing the rehabilitation and maintenance of the forest, the Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust has implemented many restoration and upkeep programmes that benefit and preserve this treasured asset and make Sibaya a world-class node to live in.
According to Gray Braatvedt, the Precinct Manager of the Sibaya Precinct Master Management Association, “The Introduced Invasive Alien (IIA) Eradication team has made significant progress in the 75 hectares section of forest between Sibaya, eMdloti and the oHlanga lagoon. The team has been very successful in pegging back the IIAs and allowing the re-introduction of indigenous species to flourish.” Partnered with a strong utility team, the walking trails within the forest are routinely cleaned and maintained along with routine clearing of washed-up litter on the 3km of beach between the oHlanga mouth and eMdloti south beach. In order to build a solid foundation within the Sibaya coastal forest area, there have been various additions made. “We have labelled various trees and plants along the trails which has improved the forest trail experience. Our team is also trained to search for and remove snares,” explains Braatvedt.
The precinct also homes a 40m grassy buffer zone that was been created between the forest dripline and the developed land to encourage the growth and thriving of the area’s different animal species. “Part of managing grassland is to do a controlled burn every few seasons which burns back the woody plants and allows the grasses to dominate. This is usually done in the winter months and different sections are burnt annually.” explains Braatvedt.
Furthermore, there is a strong focus on the stormwater control and protection of the drains from quick erosion which occurs due to the lack of cohesion from the sandy soil during heavy rains. “The utility team ensures that the M4’s drains are clear and functional. This team works closely with the Municipal and Provincial authorities to inspect and manage the structural maintenance of the roads and stormwater drainage to ensure the minimum level of impact on the forest,” ends Braatvedt.
To ensure quality assurance, the IIA team ensure that indigenous species are priortised in the area, while the Utility team ensures the maintenance of the beaches. Litter is collected, packaged, and removed by the Municipality to a designated landfill site. Another important factor within the area is water quality. “Water quality control tests are monitored in the oHlanga river and various points in the ocean from the eMdloti village to Durban View Park in uMhlanga. The water quality is vital to the health of the riverine ecology,” shares Braatvedt.
Within a mere 3 years, the Sibaya coastal forest has seen vast improvement that allows residents and the public the pleasure of enjoying nature at their convenience.