KOGELBERG Branch of the Botanical Society of SA Newsletter: December 2009 News Editors: Ed & Merran Silberbauer We wish you a joyous festive season. THE BATTLE OF BETTY’S BAY ROUND 562 The next attack takes place on Sunday 3rd January 2010, from 9am to noon VENUE: Avril's Dump. As for last month CONSTITUTION OF KOGELBERG BRANCH The new constitution prepared by John Whitehead and Nancy van Schaik will be presented to members for approval after the talk on January 16. Should anyone like to study it before this, a copy will be forwarded to them by John Whitehead; he will also answer any questions regarding the constitution. John can be contacted at 028 272 8807 Tel/Fax , 082 553 3731 and email@example.com DATES TO DIARISE FOR 2010'S TALKS Saturday 16th January. “Fynbos Gardening. Common myths,lessons from nature and practical tips for success” will be presented by Maryke Honig, Botanist and Landscaper. FRIDAY 19th February “How Darwin affected modern thinking” Speaker is Prof. George Branch. Please note this talk is on the Friday and not our usual Saturday. Saturday 20th March. “Designing for international flower shows” David Davidson, who designs the SANBI stand at the Chelsea Flower shows, will explain the ins and outs of such designing. Saturday 17th April. Cameron McMaster “Flowers of Napier, especially the Renosterveld Conservation Project”. Saturday 15th May. Dr Renee Rust “Rock art of the Little Karoo and south of the Langeberg.” Saturday 19th June.” The Millenium Seed-Bank”. July, date to be confirmed. After our AGM, Dr John Rourke will introduce us to British gardens that he visited from the sea. Unless otherwise advised, the talks will be held in the Nivenia Hall, H.P.G. at 6p.m. Liquid refreshments will be served and a voluntary collection will be taken. REPORT ON HACK NO 561 A hot hack, which we expect in mid summer but seldom experience. A lot of very useful work was done going over territory in which we have spent a lot of time and energy in the past – on bended and painful knees I might add . To have won this section of the battle against our arch enemy –the Port Jackson - is an achievement indeed, a wonderful way to end the year. Added to this is the fact that the pines have disappeared from the site. You will all remember what a mess it was a few years ago. Yet another huge achievement resulting in the reward we were were looking forward to – the return of the magnificent fynbos. The next hack will be in the same area just to clean up a few stragglers. The hot and hungry hackers were John Michaelis with Netayo, Yehudi, Hyberla and Odysseus, John Whitehead, John McNaught Davis, John and Andrea Benn, Penny Palmer, Avril Nunn, Maarten and Hilary Mauve, Jill Attwell, Pieter de Waal, Tom Dreyer, Pauline Todd, Sandy Todd, Peter and Merrilee Berrisford,Caroline Joubert, Allan Heydorn, Fuzley Domingo, David Bossenger, Ann Orton, Lewis,Caroline and Tessa and Ed and James- all Silberbauers. Christine Dreyer and John Michaelis' wife, Yvette, made the sandwiches and Merran Silberbauer made the tea. At the Aftermath Fuzley's wife Alivia, brought delicious koeksusters to round off the end of the year feast. Ed Silberbauer, Convenor. PRINGLE BAY HACK NO. 53 On 29th November 2009 the group again attacked the Australian Myrtle growing along Hangklip Road. There is still a considerable amount of Myrtle along Hangklip Road in the vicinity of the Hack site and the next hack will be in the same area. Those present were Ian Cushny, Ed Silberbauer, Tom Dreyer, Sue and Peter Folb, and John Whitehead. Connie Lee and Marion Cushny provided the much needed mid-morning refreshments. There will not be a hack at the end of December. The next hack will therefore be on Sunday 31st January 2010. As usual we will meet at Drostersgat at 08:30 and will then proceed to the hack site. Everyone who would like to help rid Pringle Bay of alien vegetation will be welcome. The hack stops at 11:30. Hacking tools are provided. Contact John at (028) 273 8807 or Ian at (028) 273 8589, or just turn up at the meeting point. John Whitehead, Convenor. CAROLS IN THE HAROLD PORTER GARDENS Sunday, 20th December 2009. The Gate opens at 6.00pm, the carol singing starts at 8.00pm. led by Stefné van Dyk. Entrance Fees : R20.00 Adults (including Bot. Soc. Members) R10.00 Children (6-18 years) Bring a picnic Climate Change and the Overberg Prof Mike Orren gave a fascinating, but sobering talk on our own Inconvenient Truth when he took us through the probabilities of Global Climate Change, the rise in temperatures, sea level rise and how it will affect the Overberg. He began with a speeded- up video of a fire storm in California, with winds over 160 km per hour. Apart from the huge plume of smoke and the force of the winds the fire generated, we were shown how because it went so high, about 40 000 feet above sea level, ice crystals formed on the uppermost clouds of smoke. An electric storm was generated (technically pyrocumulus) and the lightning caused more fires to break out. Fire fighters could never get near enough to fight these blazes as they would be sucked into the vortex. The main cause of these ferocious fires is a significant increase in temperature, drought and the subsequent drying of the soil. These fires, experienced all over the world, are a direct result of climate change. Prof Orren emphasised that what would be discussed were probabilities and projections. This encouraged the denialists, however the facts produced by world-wide observations from ice coring in the Antarctic to temperature and ph changes in the sea, and rising sea levels are proving real, and affect everyone on earth, none of us is immune. Climate is always changing and will continue to do so, however, recently there have been some unusually high, wide swings, caused in some respects by the cyclic variations of the earth’s orbit around the sun, these changes can be accurately calculated and predicted. The present warm time is outside these calculations and is considered be caused by human activity. Why is the earth warming up? In 1824 the French scientist Joseph Fourier calculated that the earth’s temperature should be much colder than it is. He realised that there must be something trapping the heat, and thought that it was Carbon Dioxide (CO2). It turned out to be water and it is water vapour that is keeping us warm, but later, ongoing research showed that CO2 also plays an important role. CO2 is naturally present in the air and is produced in enormous amounts by natural causes such as decay, and equally huge amounts are absorbed by the sea and growth of vegetation. There was a reasonable balance between production and absorption until we began to use coal, followed by an ever increasing use of oil. These emissions exceeded the ability of the earth to absorb all the extra CO2, and this led to an ever increasing rise in the world’s temperature. An example of the magnitude of the problem is that we are burning the equivalent of 150 000 litres of oil every second. We are in the middle of one of the most serious crises humanity has ever experienced and still people do not want to listen. Global water shortages are already happening; this leads to the reduction of food supplies. There is a rise in sea levels while in certain areas the coastline is being eaten away. This is becoming evident in areas such as Bangladesh, where the whole country lies almost at sea level. An increase in the earth’s temperature is already causing problems. Apart from melting ice in the Arctic and Greenland which is causing sea levels to rise, permafrost in places such as Siberia is beginning to melt causing buildings to sink into the newly soft ground. Compromised food security and lack of water and even excessive use of air conditioning to combat the heat, are all increasing our problems. While most of the world will get hotter, certain areas will get cooler, and there will be more episodes of extreme weather events such as torrential rain. When the air heats up more water vapour is taken up causing huge rainstorms leading to severe flooding, and often catastrophic damage to large areas. Prolonged droughts will also occur, and rain will be distributed in irregular ways, such as the increased rainfall in the Arctic. Stronger winds will increase the energy and size of the ocean’s waves. These have already caused severe erosion along our own coast. Storm surges especially up estuaries will increase. Conventional sea walls are useless to keep the sea out. Holland is slowly moving their residential areas to higher ground which they are building up with dredged soil (spoil). They realise that trying to keep the sea off the land using their present wall- like dikes, will eventually be impossible. California’s Central Valley is a huge market garden irrigated with water from the Rocky Mountains. This water is also needed for large cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. A prolonged drought has caused severe water shortages, drastic cutbacks (85- 100%) were ordered in February 2009. and only a late snow fall in the mountains saved the situation, but only for now. Too much ground water is being pumped out in this area and there has been a huge subsidence, in places as much as 10 metres, in the height of the ground. Ocean deserts- where there is little production and few signs of life, situated in the southern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, have increased by 15% in area in the past few years. The result is that the hot, dry air that hovers above these areas is spreading over the land in areas such as the Sahara. This is causing this desert to move north and already having an effect in southern Europe, e.g. Spain and Greece where devastating droughts and summer fires have recently become a norm. The lack of water is already having a negative impact on the tourist industry around the Mediterranean sea.. The southern jet stream that brings South Africa and Australia its cold fronts in winter, is moving south. This causes the fronts to mostly miss the land mass and thus will reduce our winter rainfall by 20% in the next few decades. The Southern Ocean can no longer absorb CO2, it is saturated. Dissolved CO2 makes the sea more acid in that there has been a 33% increase in hydrogen ion concentration; this affects all the millions of sea species that make shells from calcium carbonate. All of these creatures are essential parts of the marine food chain; food for fish. Fynbos is badly affected by temperature rise, it cannot easily adapt and the insects on which it relies for pollination and seed dispersal, will all die out or migrate away in excessive heat. Rising seas penetrate the aquifers along the coast and by rendering these saline makes them useless for drinking or for irrigation. The increase in wind velocity over the sea will have the effect of increasing not only the size of the waves, but their strength and the speed at which they move towards the shore. This would increase the number of ships being driven ashore. Thirty years ago scientists warned of the danger of building houses or any other structures too close to the waterline along our coasts. No one, from the central Government down, would listen. When Nature bears her teeth, we should be very scared because she holds all the cards, the average tropical storm generates as much energy as two atomic bombs going off every minute. What needs to be done about all of this? First of all we must have political will, because politicians and decision makers have to do something. Coastal protection should be instituted, up to date data is needed in order to assist the engineers to make adequate barriers, sea walls are proving to be useless. In the end the inevitable will happen and this will mean that the coastal structures will have to be abandoned to the sea, and moved further inland to higher ground Humans have always managed to adapt and survive and will no doubt be able to do so again, but only if the will to do something is there. Penny Palmer Prof Orren invited us to e-mail him with any questions about this subject at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will endeavour to answer these questions. INDUSTRIAL CLEANER Harold Porter NBG celebrated its 50th birthday in August 2009. Kogelberg Branch had wanted to buy a gift for the new Visitors’ Centre, a birthday gift seemed appropriate. The committee was considering what would be suitable when Curator Werner said the biggest and most urgent need was for an industrial cleaner. Now you may wonder why a centre, obviously built at some great cost, lacked funds to ensure its upkeep. In fact the Centre was funded by the then Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism as one of its Expanded Public Works Projects aimed at giving on-site training to previously disadvantaged groups, particularly women. There seemed to be a blind spot regarding upkeep. The National Botanical Gardens fall under the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) where funds are tight, as with most government departments. Way back in 1913 when Kirstenbosch Gardens came into existence, the Botanical Society of South Africa was formed with the express purpose of supporting the Gardens, so it is natural for the Kogelberg Branch to give support to Harold Porter NBG to fill real needs. The cost of the Columbus cleaner is R10 226 and since that would have heavily dented our bank balance, we went to the members; all of you have contributed to the cost either directly or indirectly. Star is Judy New, who not only gave a fascinating talk on her time in Papua New Guinea but also organised the posters, the tickets, their sales, the drinks and rallied members to make a tasty array of snacks. Wine was donated by Chris New, and Barton and Feiteiras Wineries. The total raised for the cleaner was R2 750 and a very jolly evening was had by all. The takings from the July and August talks were specifically allocated to the cleaner fund and some members, including a couple from a Johannesburg, made additional donations. The total from these sources was R1 636. The Branch had R 3462 in the Partnership Fund, a Head Office fund to be spent on SANBI so this has been used and lastly, the shortfall of R2 378 will be paid from the Branch’s current account; a portion of your subscriptions accumulates in that account so every member has contributed. Latest news is that the machine has been ordered and should be in use in early January. Werner sent a thank you card to the Kogelberg Branch: “The Harold Porter NBG staff would like to say thanks to all BotSoc committee members, Branch members and others who so unselfishly raised funds for the purchasing of the cleaning machine for our halls, with appreciation Harold Porter NBG Staff” Merrilee Berrisford, Chairman of Kogelberg Branch. Stone Axes, Spirits and Sorcery. Judy New’s presentation of a fascinating, illustrated account of Stone Age people and their implements, beliefs and lifestyles was an eye opener – extraordinary that in this day and age, people such as these still exist. Papua New Guinea was thrust up out of the sea by volcanic action aeons ago and the steep, eroded mountains still, it is believed, harbour people who have never been seen by outsiders. Despite the bewildering variety of tribes and clans, visiting language experts imagined that the inhabitants of this island would all speak a similar language. This did not occur: each clan or tribe developed its own dialect which is still spoken today. Language is an essential way of maintaining a tribe’s unique identity, which reinforces its beliefs and traditions. However, there are signs of a slow erosion of these languages as English and Pidgin is taught in schools. (An example of pidgin is “mixmaster bilong Jesus” = a helicopter). Body painting and adornment with weird objects, such as a snake’s skeleton and dog’s teeth, as well as several varieties of sea shell, all added to the meaning of their costumes. Various ceremonies were photographed, as were the simple dwellings made out of wood and palm leaves. Indoor fires are kept burning all year, to prevent the roofs from rotting in the warm and damp climate. Almost everywhere, except on the impossibly steep slopes, there are neat little garden plots where Sweet potatoes (introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th Century) yams, Taro and other vegetables are grown. Pig husbandry is of great importance as pigs are valuable currency, treated as pets and rarely eaten; they share the women’s living quarters and are a major part of the bride-price which could be 30 to 35 pigs, plus other valuables such as cassowaries, money and gold-lipped kina shells. The costumes worn for the various ceremonies are colourful in the extreme as is the face and body paint, liberally applied. Feathers, from Raggiana Birds of Paradise, parrots, sometimes whole wings of owls or eagles, and the tail feathers of the large flightless cassowary and Stephanie’s Astrapia, are commonly used. These head dresses and masks are considered sacred tribal heirlooms and are stored in the men’s quarters for safekeeping. One weird ceremony, developed as a reprisal after attacks, was enacted for the visitors. The Mud Men, their whole bodies smeared with white clay, wearing hideous masks made of mud, capered about in menacing postures, some brandishing Stone-age axes and all wearing long, sharpened finger extensions made of bamboo, which when knocked together, made an ominous sound. Another group, with realistic skeletons painted over black body-paint, crept out from between graves and walked slowly in a disjointed fashion. Sorcery is used as an effective means of social control in these primitive societies. Illnesses, accidents, and deaths are all attributed to the workings of a sorcerer. Good luck charms, amulets and love potions are all used to ward off these evils. Sorcery is supposed to be illegal and the churches exercise a strong influence against it. But there are often headline stories about villagers killing and burning alleged sorcerers in their huts. Mining and uncontrolled tree felling are causing major environmental damage and pollution to the rivers. The killing of wildlife for decorative artefacts, for example Birds of Paradise for their plumes, is another threat to the environment. Papua New Guinea has vast deposits of gold, oil, copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum and the extraction of these minerals in the future are bound to damage the rain-forests and the creatures that live in this still unexplored, pristine wilderness. Penny Palmer RAINFALL AND TEMPERATURES Month November 2008 2009 Rainfall mm 171,5 139,5 Temp, °C Max 28 30 Min 12 14 CHANGE OF ADDRESS/ AND/ OR STATUS OF MEMBERSHIP If you change your address, wish to resign or change your status, please notify the Botanical Society Head Office on 021- 797 2090, as they print the labels and keep the records. We do only the newsletter, e-mails and posting. To receive this newsletter via e-mail (and save the Branch the costs of printing, packaging and postage) send your address to email@example.com REMEMBER YOUR ARTICLES AND CONTRIBUTIONS ARE WELCOME The editors reserve the right to edit contributions. Deadline for the next newsletter is Wednesday,6th January 2010. Please address all mail to : Kogelberg Branch of the Botanical Society of SA, P.O. Box 93, Betty’s Bay 7141. E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org no graphics please.