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Residents and City Parks team up to restore Cumberland Bird Sanctuary

City Parks' Phillip Mkhombo said that City Parks is grateful for the support and initiative shown by residents in cleaning green spaces.

On May 11, residents of Randburg and Sandton, along with Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, converged at Cumberland Bird Sanctuary for a collective effort to tackle invasive alien plants and restore the natural habitat.

Bronweyn Craig from the Bryanfern Residents Association emphasised the importance of community engagement in preserving green spaces. “We’re educating our residents about their green spaces and what it means. We’re keeping it clean, tidy, and alien-invasive-free. We’re allowing them to enjoy the bird life and the animals.”

Craig also highlighted the social benefits of such initiatives, stating, “I think after lockdown, a lot of people were so cooped up that some of them didn’t even realise what was around them. Now through these clean-ups, we can meet people and create community, friendships, and relationships.”

Nick Brown cuts down an invasive tree.

Security concerns were also addressed by Craig. “Some of us come out because of the safety aspect. The more work we do to clean up, the more visibility it creates. So, our security companies and the police can drive past and they can see straight through.”

Phillip Mkhombo, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo’s north conservation specialist shed light on the project. “The residents are cleaning up the green lungs here in Cumberland which is part of a project called the ‘Clearing of the Green Spaces’. They’re doing clean-ups in green lands that fall under City Parks and go through the residents’ properties.”

Cumberland Bird Sanctuary after all the invasive plants were removed.

Mkhombo explained the urgency of the issue. “There are a lot of alien plants that are growing and clog the green spaces making it too thick for anyone to come in. So, we’re removing them and over the years we’ve been trying to plant indigenous trees and cut eucalyptus trees. But due to capacity and budgetary constraints, the alien plants are growing faster than we could get funds to come and clear.”

He expressed gratitude for the residents’ involvement. “When residents take it upon themselves and clean the spaces, they are more than welcome because it shows that they have an interest in and care about the environment.”

City Parks workers cut down trees and set them aside for collection.

Nick Brown, a dedicated resident who has been working in the park for the last decade, stressed the importance of community participation. “People need to start getting involved in their parks. City Parks has got a hell of a job on their hands. You know, they maintain hundreds of parks. So, it helps if we can assist them and do the stuff that they can’t get to.”

Brown spoke on the struggles they have been facing. “We struggle to get community involvement. There are probably 20 people here at our clean-ups and half of them are City Parks. We’ve got so many ideas and we would like the community to join us and City Parks claim our green spaces back.”

He urged community members to join in on the next clean-ups:

  • Krom Wetland – June 8
  • Ferndale Wetland – July 20
  • William Nicol Bird Sanctuary – August 17
  • Cumberland Bird Sanctuary – September 14
  • Krom Wetland – October 12
  • Cumberland Bird Sanctuary – November 16.

Related article: Officials of the Randburg Police Station clean up Bryanston

Resident association host a successful clean-up

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