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Arbour Week: restoring the wealth of the wetlands

Arbour Week: restoring the wealth of the wetlands

After completing an exigent Science and Biology standardized test, we started comparing garden tools and changing into gumboots and farmer-style shorts. My personal favorite was Ben Giliomee, who unashamedly sported rainbow shorts, cute gumbooties and a pink shovel! Spades in hand, we braced ourselves.

Oakhill has a belt of wetland that circuits the Preparatory School. Alien grass was planted all around this environmentally delicate area. The grass had overtaken the wetland, preventing the flow of the stream that had once graced this area, as well as suffocating all the indigenous flora and fauna. To acknowledge and celebrate Arbour Week, the Grade 9’s were to dig up this alien grass to expose the marsh. The following day the Grade 8’s would place stones in the area to re-create the marshlands.

Gingerly, we avoided the oozing mud-coloured dribble as we tried to hack through the armour of roots and army of green blades. Then, we forgot about cleanliness and just ‘got down and dirty’. Like a Biology dissection, we removed the first layer of grass to reveal the innards of our wetland; a teeming life of massive crabs and other pincered creatures as well as millions of spiders, earthworms and miniature frogs sheltered by the mud. It was astonishing to observe the clandestine myriad of eco wealth this world still possesses. The continued survival of these creatures was encouraging; we too often forget the joy of simplicity and life in the face of naysayers.

As the day progressed, it became hotter and hotter, until, for many guys, the only solution was to ‘strip down’. They clothed themselves in mud instead, engaging in a colossal mud fight. Aidan Dunlop emerged fully clothed with this brown substance which had an annoying tendency to find one’s hair and stick there! Someone had a bright idea of muddying the all-too-clean teachers, Ms Carver in particular. Advice to future Grade 9’s, do not antagonize her – she happens to be very good at self-defense by means of the humble spade!

Sipping guava juice from paper cups, we looked down on our work. We had cleared of grass an entire section of wetland. More than that, Oakhill proved that humans CAN undo our environmental mistakes and allow life to flourish as it naturally would. By this action, we hope to ignite hope and inspire action in the Knysna Community and the world at large.

A heartfelt thank you to Ms le Fleur and Mrs Bouwer for organizing this event.

Reporter: Iqraa Daniels

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