Liesbeek River in Rosebank, photo: rotsee, Wikipedia
The Liebseek River Corridor project is a collaborative project aimed not only to protect and restore the function of the river but also to raise awareness of the historical importance of the river through signage and art installations. In collaboration with different organisations, schools and individuals we have already began participating in initiatives that improve the future of not only Liesbeek River but Cape Town.
Communitree facilitates the participation of members of the public in Fynbos rehabilititation along the Liesbeek River through the growing of plants, Fynbos garden care, bird- and insect-monitoring. Each Fynbos patches is a stepping stones for insects and birds along the river, a place to rest and refresh along their journey, such that each patches works with the others to build up a stepping-stone corridor. Along with the ecological rehabilitation we are working with local schools on bringing to light the historical significane of each site to aid in cultural acknowledgement and restoration.
The Liesbeek River (named after a river in the Netherlands) is a fairly small yet very significant river in Cape Town. It flows from Table Mountain in the area around Kirstenbosch down towards the area where the Liesbeek River meets the Black river in Observatory. The Khoikhoi (“men of men”) historically used the area around this river as a source of water, food and a site of significant spiritual practice. The river is symbolic in a number of ways, for example an area where two rivers meet is a symbol of marriage, an occassion where two families join one another. The river itself is an significant historical landmark, where in 1510 the first land battle between the Europeans and Khoi occured, resulting in the defeat of the Portuguese by the Khoi.
Despite urban impact, this river is still home to many animal species, who live in the river, feed from the river and se the river as their uninterrupted highway through the otherwise welcng urban landscape. The Cape Galaxia is an example of the indigenous fish that can be found in the river. Indigenous plants include the Wild Almond (Brabejum stellatifolium), Cobra lilies (Chamanthes floribunda and C. aethiopica) and Wild Rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus).
Due to the high impact nature of historical European settlement and harvesting, growing urban development, modernisation and harvesting, the areas around the river and the river itself are highly impacted. A river of this level of historical cultural significance and present-day ecological value is worthy of our time and energy to properly mark and acknowledge it culturally, and enhance it ecologically.
As a river longest under impact for development, our work along the river is not about making the river look like it did before, but working within the current condition and urban impacts and improving thes river’s function, use, and perceived value.
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