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.
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
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