Servest Won Double Gold Awards At The University Of Pretoria
For three projects that it entered in the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Excellence Awards.1st Apr 2022
‘SALI was created by a group of landscapers who believed that the true potential of the landscaping industry could be realised only if landscapers showed unity, produced excellent work and worked with professionalism and integrity,’ says Professor Susan Adendorff, Director of UP Facilities Management. ‘SALI and its members are associated with and represented by the South African Green Industries Council [SAGIC].’
SAGIC is a non-profit that serves the interests of organisations and individuals who have an interest in South Africa’s green industry. It facilitates skills development, water conservation and initiatives around action against alien and/or invasive species.
Servest won Double Gold for the following projects:
- Strubenkop – environmental rehabilitation and restoration
- Hartbeestspruit – environmental rehabilitation and restoration
- Javett-UP project
Strubenkop restoration project
According to Prof. Adendorff, the Strubenkop outcrop, located on UP’s Hillcrest Campus, was heavily infested with nationally declared alien and/or invasive plant species. The infestation was dominated by the noxious Lantana camara (common lantana), among other common alien and/or invasive weeds, trees, and shrubs. ‘Servest [a facilities management company] was appointed as the principal contractor for the eradication of this and other alien invasive plants, and for the rehabilitation and restoration of the natural veld of the Strubenkop outcrop.’
About 60,000 square metres (78%) of the total area have been cleared of alien invasive tree and shrub species. Positive signs of natural recovery and succession are visible with the recuperation of historical species such as Combretum molle (the velvet bushwillow), Peltophorum africanum (weeping wattle), Dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear), Ziziphus mucronate (buffalo thorn), Pappea capensis (jacket plum), and many more.
‘Very well done!’ commented one judge. ‘This site has very difficult terrain with a high level of infestation of Lantana and other invasives on a very steep, rocky slope. The natural vegetation is returning through the efforts of the contractor; persistence is paying off.’
Another judge had this to say: ‘Excellent project. Amazing to see a koppie that was infested with Lantana recovering so well. No seeding done – all-natural succession, which was a really good choice. A particularly pleasing project.’
Hartbeestspruit restoration project
The Hartbeestspruit flows from south to north along the western boundary of UP’s Hillcrest Campus and is characterised as a typical urban river system. Servest was appointed as principal contractor for the upgrade and rehabilitation of the Hartbeestspruit river system, which is subject to annual flooding. The programme was initiated and commenced mid-2017 with a bulk restoration phase. This consisted of large-scale earthworks that involved the restoration of the lateral flow of the river, firstly to increase capacity during urban flooding events, and secondly to promote biodiversity through habitat creation. In addition, large-scale mechanical clearing of kikuyu along the riparian embankment leading from Jan-se-gat through to the N4 was conducted. The next phase focused around the systematic rehabilitation of the riparian embankment through revegetation of indigenous plant species, using a combination of seeding and planting methods. The goal with the riparian rehabilitation initiative is to maximise the resilience of the urban channel in response to a rapidly changing upstream urban environment. Some of the key objectives are to stabilise the embankments through a bio-engineered approach; source and establish indigenous and locally adapted plant species to maximise stabilisation; and clear and remove alien invasive shrub and tree species from the riparian zone.
The larger regional vegetation type associated with rivers within the Gauteng region is the Highveld Alluvial Vegetation. Past agricultural impacts as well as rapid urban expansion and development have significantly altered Gauteng river reaches from their historic condition. It was therefore decided that the Hartbeestpruit rehabilitation should focus on representing the important taxa commonly associated with the Highveld Alluvial Vegetation. In addition, the Hartbeestspruit was characterised as a highly urbanised and/or artificial channel or stream, and emphasis was placed on re-establishing robust riparian vegetation that can withstand the extremes between high and low flows. The work area stretches the entire length of the Hartbeestspruit, running through the UP campus from Jan-se-Gat to the outlet at the N4. Bulk earthworks have removed about 21,000 square metres of invasive kikuyu grass from the riparian embankment. Although rehabilitation efforts in the form of seeding and planting of historically local plant species have started between Jan-se-Gat and Farm Dam, recuperation is still in the early phases and requires continuous management. ‘A challenge to an urban waterway is the infestation of kikuyu,’ said one judge. ‘Servest managed to successfully re-establish veld grass – very well done!’
Javett Art Centre
The Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) is a donor-initiative development designed in collaboration with Pieter Mathews & Associates Architects. It is on the south campus and is connected to Hatfield Campus by a bridge gallery that spans Lynnwood Road. Underneath is a student gallery, which links the Architecture and the Visual Arts departments. Servest was responsible for the installation of a new irrigation system, the construction of several hard landscaping aspects, and the establishment of the landscape post-completion. It won an award for landscape construction with design by others. The landscape design was done by GreenInc Landscape Architecture, and the construction of the buildings executed by Liviero.
Dr Ida Breed, a UP Landscape Architecture lecturer, assisted with sections of the design that forms part of her research group, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Tshwane (BEST). ‘The biodiversity garden project monitors the survival of native plant species in urban contexts, while exploring to what degree these native plants contribute to biodiversity,’ says Dr Breed.
‘Very well installed with an interesting design,’ said the judges. ‘It was good to see such an interesting and unusual indigenous palette!’
‘UP is committed to green initiatives because of the goals and objectives to remain the leader in environmental compliance, environmental restoration and to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible,’ says Prof. Adendorff. ‘There is a constant drive to improve the environmental status on all campuses to ensure that we do not just comply with environmental laws and regulations but create an experience of progress, innovation and great visual appeal.’