Thursday 25 October 2012

Weedbusting at Bishopscourt and Promoting Biodiversity

The following media release was issued on 25 October 2012

Weedbusting Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Promotes Biodiversity

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) yesterday jointly hosted a party to celebrate ‘weedbusting’ in his Bishopscourt garden. Dr Thabo Makgoba welcomed representatives from conservation community of Cape Town and the Western Cape, as well as from the faith communities and others who, as he put it, ‘share my belief that we are called to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the earth’. To this end, he said, more than R200,000 has already been spent clearing invasive aliens from his large, historic, garden, and work still remains to be done. ‘If this had only been tackled 30 years ago, the work would have been far easier and cheaper’ he added, saying that he hoped others would learn the lesson not to let the problem worsen.

The Archbishop has been working with representatives of SANBI’s ‘Early Detection and Rapid Response Team’ to rid Bishopscourt of a number of invasive alien plant species, ranging from the spreading ground cover of morning glory to pines that deplete ground water.He also told the invited guests how much he used to like morning glory, with its large purple flowers, until he realised it was taking over vast areas of the garden and suffocating all the other plants it covered.

Speaking of the need to be a good steward of the property, the Archbishop underlined the need to plant alternatives that are not only beautiful, but are good for the environment. SANBI’s EDRR programme agreed that a team will be dispatched to assist the Archbishop in his endeavour to weed out the alien plant species.

Carmel Mbizvo, SANBI’s Deputy Director General applauded the Archbishop, and called on others to emulate him, especially in the Bishopscourt area, where tributaries which flow into the Liesbeek are being invaded by the purple loosestrife. SANBI, the City of Cape Town, and the Friends of the Liesbeek are now battling together to eradicate this. Louise Stafford, Head of Invasive Alien Species Management at the City, described some of her department’s work, and said their Early Detection and Rapid Response Team would be glad to assist the Archbishop and any other gardeners who wanted to follow the Archbishop’s example.

Ms Mbizvo also noted that invasive alien plants cover an estimated 10 million hectares of South Africa, and consume approximately 7% of its water resources, in addition to being high fire risks, promoting soil erosion, reducing agricultural productivity, and disturbing the natural balance of ecosystems. This impacts not only on biodiversity, but also on human livelihoods. Bishop Geoff Davies, Director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, also drew attention to the link between environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and poverty.

‘Going “green” isn’t merely something that is fashionable to do’ said the Archbishop. ‘It has to be more than words on paper or a status symbol, but be exemplified in how we live, if we are to save our planet from human-induced destruction.’ Dr Makgoba will be taking the same message with him later this week, when he goes to an international Anglican Consultative Council meeting in New Zealand. ‘As chair of the Anglican Communion’s Environment Network, I shall be reminding our churches around the world that care for our planet is not optional. It is part of our calling to be faithful Christians, and good stewards of God’s creation.’

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours);
and Ms Alex Marsh, SANBI EDRR communications manager (021 799 8743 ,, who can also supply pictures.