Pre / Post Congress Field Trips

Field Trip 01: West Coast National Park  |  Date: Sunday 04 September (Field trip 1) or Saturday 10 September 2022 (Field Trip 2)

Facilitator:  Prof John Compton
Prof John Compton (now emeritus) has been involved in research on the West Coast for the last 24 years. His research interests include the history of the highly productive Benguela Upwelling System and the genesis of large phosphate deposits on the shelf, the records of climate and sea-level fluctuations over the last several millions of years and their impact on human evolution in southern Africa, the importance of wind-blown mineral dust and sea aerosols as a source of nutrients to the highly diverse fynbos plant biome, and the dynamics of coastal environments from lagoon salt marshes to mobile sand dune cordons. He has written several popular science books on the natural history of the region (visit johnscompton.com).

Date: Sunday 04 September (Field trip 1) or Saturday 10 September 2022 (Field trip 2)

Cost: R1260.00  (Includes luxury transport, Entrance fees, Lunch, water, and guide book)

Description:  This field trip will explore the relation of plant biomes and geological substrate in the West Coast National Park. The park contains Cape seashore vegetation on active dunes along the coast, Cape salt marsh along the fringes of Langebaan Lagoon, as well as granite and dune strandveld biomes. Dune strandveld is the dominant biome in the park, growing on widespread calcareous dune sand that ranges in age from Recent to Pleistocene. Plants vary within the dune strandveld related to age of dune deposits, extent of leaching of carbonate from the sand and the extent of exposed calcrete (a pedogenic limestone rock). Aspects that will be discussed include source of nutrients to the plants (substrate, wind-blown, nutrient islands, role of fire), alien invasive species, soil processes (calcrete, silcrete) and groundwater hydrology.

Preliminary Itinerary:

Departure from Club Mykonos at 08:30, Return at 18:00

  • 08:30 Drive to WCNP, enter North entrance at Langebaan
  • Visit Seeberg for overview of Lagoon
  • Geelbek bird hide (Saltmarsh)
  • Postberg granite for Namaqualand daisies
  • Tsaarbank Atlantic coastal dunes
  • Kraalbaai fossil footprints, sandflats and middens
  • 18:00 Return to Club Mykonos

Participants to bring:

  • Appropriate clothing for sun and wind
  • Comfortable walking shoes (minor walking)

Field Trip 02: West Coast Fossil Park 4 Sept 2022 | Fossils, Fynbos, Mining and Mankind

Guides and co-ordination: Pippa Haarhoff (Manager, West Coast Fossil Park), Deon van Eeden (original mine closure ecological restoration practitioner and Managing Director for Vula Environmental Services) and Lynette Munro (Conservation partnership facilitator, Nature Connect).

Description of Full Day Tour (9am – 4pm) Sunday 4th September 2022

A guided walking tour to the open dig site will take you to one of the few places where you can see fossils in the ground exactly as they were buried in a catastrophic flood event millions of years ago. This fossil site is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene (circa 5.2 -10 million years ago).

Pippa, manager of the Fossil Park, will provide you with background linked to the origin (the site was originally a phosphate mine), establishment and future of the fossil park as a Public Trust, whilst you stand just out of reach from the fossils of bears, sabre-tooth cats and short-necked giraffes.

From there, we will walk to the Green Village, and engage with the local Councillor and staff leading the early childhood development programme at the Village that was established as part of the mine closure process. You will learn about the history, current status, challenges, hopes and dreams for the Village.

Ahead of lunch, you are free to wander through the museum and exhibition hall, before we re-group for the afternoon. Deon will host us thereafter, showing us how this Park is a hub for conservation and rehabilitation of the Strandveld ecosystem, and how this knowledge has been applied in developing best practice for open cast mining along the west coast.

Bio: Pippa Haarhof

Pippa graduated in Archaeology at UCT where she initially worked in the Cenozoic Palaeontology department on the fossil collection from Langebaanweg under the guidance of Dr Brett Hendey. Her work in this field led her to play a leading role in initiating the Fossil Park project in 1992, and she took on the responsibility of running the Park when it was opened to the Public in 1998.

Bio: Deon van Eeden

A natural interest, followed by formal training in horticulture and landscape design, took Deon into research-based environmental restoration work in the late 1990’s. What began as a 3 month contract to “see what could be done” about an old open-cast mine on the west coast, became his stomping ground and the West Coast Fossil Park for the next 25 years. Deon and his team have pioneered dry land restoration work in South Africa, mainstreaming restoration and ecosystem-based landscaping along the way.

Bio: Nature Connect

Nature Connect works to build resilience in communities in order to address both the social and environmental challenges faced by the City and beyond. This is undertaken through its Crèche-to-Career environmental education model. Lynette Munro serves as a Conservation Partnership Facilitator, seeking to understand and develop models for sustainable financing for conservation, while growing the conservation estate. ‘Business as Usual’ is clearly failing the fynbos. Nature Connect work with the hope that all is not lost, and that the world can look different as per its tagline: Changing lives through nature.

Date:  Sunday 4 Sept 2022

Cost: ZAR1 102,50 per person (includes: *Transport, West Coast Fossil Park tour, tea + lunch and a donation for the green village eco-school project)

Max capacity: 30 (no minimum but transport cost will vary depending on the number of participants)  Please note that transport cost may vary and influence the per-person price.

Preliminary Itinerary

09:00   Depart Mykonos

09:30   Arrive West Coast Fossil Park

09:45  Walk to the dig site with Pippa & Deon

10:00   View the open dig site

10:30   Walk to Green Village

10:45   Engage with staff and local Councillor (History, challenges, dreams for the future)

11:45    Walk to Museum

12:00   Museum tour

12:00   Lunch

13:30  Deon van Eeden: What we did, why, and how this has advanced the field of fynbos restoration.

15:30   Depart West Coast Fossil Park

16:00   Return to Mykonos