FRIENDS of the (blushing) BRIDE

Restoring the home of the Blushing Bride, Serruria Florida, in the mountains near Franschhoek, Western Cape South Africa

Friends of the Bride is a Volunteer Fynbos Restoration Project, conducted in collaboration with CapeNature in Assegaaiboskloof near Franschhoek.

Our goal is to Save and Protect the natural home of the Blushing Bride. We aim to do this by bringing you, the people, back into the Mountain.

We invite you to join our Bioblitzes, Hacks, iNaturalist Training Sessions and Guided Walks.


The project is owned and coordinated by Santie Gouws Professional Mountain Walking Guide



CONTACT us to GET INVOLVED, and

DONATE HERE through our Back-a-Buddy Campaign



THE BLUSHING BRIDES of ASSEGAAIBOSKLOOF

In the upper reaches of the Berg River Valley beyond Franschhoek lies a Sacred Paradise that is under threat of disappearing. Surrounded by hidden mountain gorges and majestic cliffs from which magnificent waterfalls gush down, this Paradise forms part of the Fynbos Floral Biome known as the world’s “hottest biodiversity hotspot”, since it has the highest concentration of plant species in the world: an estimated 9,500 species, of which 70 percent do not grow anywhere else. What makes this specific piece of Paradise so unique within the larger Fynbos Floral Biome is that, apart from other rare species, it contains the last remaining naturally occurring population of Serruria Florida, commonly known as the Blushing Bride or Pride of Franschhoek, which was once widely spread throughout the valley.

A large section of the upper Berg River Valley was historically under pine plantation. These were actively cut down when the Berg River dam was built in 2009, and fynbos is starting to return. However, large tracts previously under 'canary island pine' are re-coppicing despite felling and the severe fire of February 2021. Moreover, other invasive alien plants are also threatening to take over the fynbos in those areas.

What is however even more concerning, is that the pines and other invasive alien species have also found their way into the upper reaches of the valley which had never been under plantation previously, spilling over into the still pristine Blushing Bride Paradise and threatening its very existence.

A Serruria Florida, Blushing Bride, seedling amidst canary island pine re-copiccing in October 2021

THE WORK DONE TO DATE

To date, Friends of the Bride have conducted two Blushing Bride Bioblitz and three Invasive Alien Clearing Hacks in the Assegaaiboskloof valley in 2021 and 2022.

The Bioblitzes, the first which occurred 8 months after the fire of February 2021, was highly successful and showed the fynbos wonderfully regenerating after the devastation. Led by Dr. Tony Rebelo of SANBI, 32 volunteers uploaded more than 1,600 observations of fauna and flora, incorporating more than 300 species occurring in the valley onto the Global Citizen Science Platform, iNaturalist. The second was a smaller, but just as successful trip that coincided with the global iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2022 event, CNC Stb 2022

The three Hacks, which took place in November and December 2021 and April 2022, were also well attended, with in total 46 volunteers removing approximately 18,000 wattle and stink bean seedlings in addition to cutting and treating roughly 120 canary island pines to prevent further re-coppicing.

To learn more about this work, watch the presentation at the South African National Department of Forestries, Fisheries and Environment's Invasive Species Forum in Stellenbosch here (2nd presentation): DFFE - Invasive Species Forum - January 2022

or

listen to our interview on Radio Sonder Grense, a National South African Radio Station: RSG interview January 2022

New life returning after the Feb '21 fire...

There is a lot of work still to be done, so we invite you to join our Bioblitzes, Hacks, iNaturalist Training Sessions and Guided Walks

Donations and sponsorships are required for the following:


  • Establishing Friends of the Bride as Not for Profit Organization

  • Hacking tools

  • A vehicle to access the depths of Assegaaiboskloof

  • Administration fees for arranging Bioblitzes, iNaturalist training and hacks in Assegaaiboskloof

  • Fees for Guides and iNaturalist trainers

  • Management fees to source Biodiversity Restoration Credit Finance for sustainably Saving the Brides in Assegaaiboskloof


CONTACT us to GET INVOLVED, and

DONATE HERE through our Back-a-Buddy Campaign