The Mtunzini Conservancy - Looking after our Green Heritage



Mtunzini has been a hub of environmental education and awareness from the time neighbouring farmer Ian Garland started taking school children and teachers on 'nature outings' on his farm Twinstreams 60 years ago.
He was giving them a lesson in conservation long before the concept of ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ had been developed, but his message was just as important then as it is now: Protect your environment, take care of your water resources, plant indigenous trees and enjoy nature. It’s the same message the Mtunzini Conservancy continues to spread whether it is informing residents about alien invader plants growing in their gardens or planting trees on Arbor day.
Besides the many desktop tasks of monitoring and managing developments around Mtunzini, the Conservancy also supports a variety of leisure activities to increase environmental awareness among town residents - whether it be tree ID walks, evening talks on subjects ranging from bats to geology and even a late night tramp in the swamp in search of interesting frogs. The popular annual Birding Weekend showcases the area’s diversity to an increasing number of visitors. The Conservancy also co-operates with various environmental organisations and is an active member of the regional Coastal Working Group and Coastwatch. It liaises with the management of the neighbouring Umlalazi Nature Reserve and has often come to its assistance whether it be through alien plant eradication programmes or the sponsorship of monkey-proof refuse bins.
Members of the Conservancy are kept up-to-date through quarterly e-newsletters and regular meetings which are often sidetracked by lively debate.

Mtunzini Conservancy will be hosting their annual Birding Weekend at Twinstreams Environmental Centre at the end of June and it promises the usual sightings of the area's winter 'specials' as well as two highly recommended evening presentations by top birder and photographer Dr Hugh Chittenden.
The Weekend, which offers two outings per day and covers Ongoye Forest, Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Dlinza Forest, Amatikulu Nature Reserve and other birding areas in the district is limited to 24 participants who are divided into smaller groups each with their own birding guides.
The 'specials' at this time of the year are: the Green Barbet, Southern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cinnamon Dove, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Mangrove Kingfisher, African Finfoot, Palmnut Vulture, Green Malkoha and Orange-breasted Waxbill.
Dr Chittenden will be giving presentations on two of the evenings and these will look at the rarer and more interesting birds of the area and offer insights into the reasons for their restricted distribution.
The cost is R1 950 per person which includes all meals, lunch packs, activities, entry fees and guides. Accommodation is extra and is available at Twinstreams in bungalows or deck cabins (ranging from R100 to R200pp per night) OR at a B&B or self-catering venue in the village of Mtunzini.
Transport and alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost.(BYOB).
For more information contact Daff on email or 035 340 1600 or 081 270 3064.

(Association incorporated under Section 21) Reg. no. 2007/006455/08 and having Section 18A status in terms of the Income Tax Act.
The Mtunzini Conservancy is registered with SARS as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO number 930026221)

The Mtunzini Conservancy began its early life twenty years ago as the Arboretum Committee which was formed to advise the local municipality on 'green' issues and to rid the town of alien plant invaders. One of the first projects it undertook was to remove the many stands of gum trees (Eucalyptus species) which had been left abandoned around Mtunzini.

So successful was the clearing and rehabilitation of these areas that the programme became the model for urban alien plant eradication programmes around the country and the Conservancy was awarded a top honour for conservation by the Natal Parks Board.

Mtunzini had an unfair advantage in having been guided in this quest by conservation pioneer and neighbouring farmer Dr Ian Garland and today the avenues of indigenous trees - which are a hallmark of the village - are an unmarked memorial to the selfless work of this far-sighted early visionary.


Office Bearers 2011/2

       Barbara Chedzey
       Doggy Kewley
       Wendy Forse
       Barbara Kewley

Following the Conservancy’s success in clearing the town of alien invader plants, its concern shifted to other issues such as waste management, the threat of new residential and leisure developments in sensitive locations and more recently, the proposed mining by Exxaro Sands for titanium on land adjoining the southern residential side of town.
The Conservancy has also put years of consultation and participation into the development of a municipal Land Use Management System (LUMS) which will guide future development and ensure that change occurs according to an approved framework.
Mtunzini, under the guidance of the Conservancy, was one of the first towns in South Africa to launch the Mondi Orange Bag Job Creation project where households began full recycling at source.
The income generated from the collection of recyclable waste comes back to the Conservancy and is used to motivate the BEE contractors to further support recycling. Glass is collected in a similar manner using a trailer sponsored by the Conservancy and then recycled by Consul Glass.
The Conservancy has always promoted an awareness of alien plant invaders and the drive is now to get residents to recognise which of these plants they may be harbouring in their own gardens.
Every month a potted specimen of an invader plant species is placed in a prominent position outside the local supermarket and residents are urged to learn to identify them and remove them from their properties.

There is also an on-going tree-planting programme in the town and neighbouring district.
Since 2006 more than 1 000 trees have been planted as part of the Greening Obanjeni project which has done much to introduce young people in the Obanjeni tribal authority to the excitement of conservation and the know-how to improve their immediate environment.
Barbara Chedzey addresses a public meeting on mining
The work of the Conservancy often requires hours of hard work by dedicated volunteers:
(above) chairperson Barbara Chedzey addresses a public meeting to raise concerns
about mining close to the town and, right, members discuss the benefits of
a land-use management plan for future development in Mtunzini.
Ian Garland introduces schoolchildren to the environment in the early 1960sObanjeni kids work to improve their environment in the Greening Obanjeni ProjectThe Annual Birding Weekend