Thursday, 31 May 2007 14:29

Successful incema harvest

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Successful incema harvest The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife report a great success to the annual Wetland Park May incema (salt marsh rush - Juncus kraussii) harvest which started on April 25 and ended on May 16. Women flocked from as far away as Port Shepstone and Msinga to collect the natural materials that they will use for the year's craftwork.
Interestingly, a few men were also spotted this year helping the women with the harvesting and the carrying of the reed, underlining the critical economic importance of incema to many rural communities.
This is part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park community based natural resource harvesting programme which sees tangible benefits accruing to approximately 3500 participants, many of whom are former land claimants.
The Wetland Park is one of a few remaining sites in South Africa where incema can still be harvested. The harvest usually lasts 2-3 weeks. Wetland Park staff are on standby to ensure the safety of harvesters from dangerous game such as hippo, rhino and elephant.
Park ecologists ensure that the areas used for harvesting are carefully chosen to ensure the minimal impact and sustainable use of the resource. iNcema has been conserved and continues to grow in large quantities in the Wetland Park.
The season ceases once the incema in the demarcated areas has been harvested.  The season is set by the availability of material allocated area rather than by set time. This is seen as an equitable way of controlling resource use and ensuring the ecological sustainability of the programme.
A co-management approach is used to the harvesting of incema and includes the Wetland Park Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the leadership of Khula village, Zwelisha and Land Claimant Trusts. Community leaders administer the collection fee, monitor the harvest and also help with control and transport of the natural product.
The harvesting of incema from sites in the Wetland Park enables local people to directly benefit from the Wetland Park.
Mr  Ephraim Mfeka, chairman of the Bhangazi Community Trust said, “We are pleased with the way the incema harvesting was conducted. The event has been very successful and the community was excited at the amount of incema that they were able to harvest inside the Wetland Park. Now they are able to start producing work that will earn them an income.”
This Wetlands Wire newsflash, will be regularly issued by the Wetlands Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Park's conservation managers. These communications underline our ongoing commitment to update, inform and involve the public, holidaymakers and interested parties about the Park, and to address any concerns brought to our attention.
Andrew Zaloumis,

Authority Chief Executive Officer

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