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What we do
Friends of Stellenbosch Mountain is a volunteer organisation dedicated to the nature areas on and around Stellenbosch Mountain from Coetzenburg to Haelkop. We do regular hacking, i.e. removal of invasive plants such as Hakea, Port Jacksons, Black Wattles, Pines, Eucalyptus, Bugweed etc. We coordinate our work closely with the Municipality of Stellenbosch and other role players in the area. We estimate that we have removed between 150,000 and 250,000 invasive plants and trees on the slopes of Stellenbosch Mountain since we began hacking in earnest in 2008. Much of our work takes place in remote and inaccessible areas, making it even more valuable.
Why we exist
Hacking is hard work but also a great way to work out while making a big difference to the environment. Alien invasive plants constitute one of the biggest threats to nature areas, on a par with habitat destruction and climate change. Invasives also have a huge economic cost. The benefits of regular hacking stretch over decades. Hacking literally changes the face of the mountain. To see the difference, compare Stellenbosch Mountain to other nature areas nearby where no hacking is taking place. A recent example is the emergence of Acacia implexa in the Papegaaiberg Protected Area, where it is spreading fast and furious. Insectwise, South Africa is witnessing the path of destruction wrought by the Polyphagous shot hole borer beetle which has been emerging for years but, like most invasives, was not taken seriously until it was too late.
How you can help
Learn more about the ecology of the Cape fynbos and the lower-lying renosterveld while you hack, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature around you on a fresh morning in the veld.
We try to hold hacks regularly on the third Saturday of every month, usually starting at 7:00 in summer and 8:00 in winter. Special hacks and events are held on dates as they come. See this article for a quick introduction to hacking. Here is an article on creating colloquial names for invasives to aid understanding of the problem.
Holding authorities accountable
We also play a big role in keeping responsible authorities accountable, both the officials responsible for managing the nature areas and all persons in positions of power and authority in Stellenbosch Municipality.
The Nature Area and the page should give you an idea of the current management issues.
The monthly blog and the documents section provide a cross section of current local and
global links and documents pertaining to climate change, the environment and Stellenbosch local planning issues. FSM is quite active in
governance processes of the Municipality of Stellenbosch.