On Friday the 4th of August, 7 girls from the Earth Children Society braved the icy wind, donned their gumboots and headed down to the Liesbeek River.
After hearing about Living Labs (check out their video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMsdg56fO18 ) and their mission to connect young people with the rivers in their environment, while contributing valuable scientific information on the river’s health – we knew this was something the Earth Children had to get involved in.
When we arrived at the river, we were greeted with friendly smiles by Dr. Jeremy Shelton and two interns, Kirsten and Tammy, from the Freshwater Research Institute, and Connor, a Matric from Cedar House – all of whom would be facilitating our MiniSASS (Stream Assessment Scoring System). Two members of ‘Friends of The Liesbeek’ were also there to talk to us about the work that they do protecting and maintaining the river (visit fol.org.za or their Facebook page for more information) Jeremy also gave us more background on Living Labs and his passion for protecting the precious and undervalued resource that are our rivers. Then we dived straight in.
Sporting nets, we stirred vegetation and sand to dislodge small organisms. We then emptied our catch into a tray of water. Then the fun really began; we had to try catch the bugs and crabs and worms.
It was incredible to hear the exclamations of delight and see the joy and wonder lighting up everyone’s face as we examined and identified damselflies, dragonflies and minnow mayflies. Seeing each creature through a magnifying glass in such stunning detail gave one a taste of stepping into a whole new world.
At first I was unsure that the Liesbeek was the right place to do a river health assessment, imagining only a lifeless, polluted mess – obviously it would be ‘sick’. However seeing the vegetation growing through the concrete canal, lined by vegetable gardens and the variety of organisms in the river, opened my eyes to nature’s resilience. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am inspired to do more to conserve the nature right on my doorstep and bring nature back to our cities.
Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible. The Earth Children can’t wait to do it again.