N3TC Drak Challenge 2022 Media Release

 No: drak2204

23 Nov 2021

Embargo : None

Written by: Dave Macleod

War against Wattle finds new allies in Underberg

Underberg – The decade-old battle to rid the upper uMzimkhulu River valley of Black Wattle alien invader trees has taken a bold step forward, as the Canyon Canoe Club prepares to host the 28th edition of the popular N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB canoe marathon on the last weekend of January 2022.

The campaign to pool money donated by the race sponsors and the participants themselves started in 2012 when, based on the cash collected at the event, the host club commissioned a team to eradicate Black Wattle from sections of the valley, and within a few years the so-called Black Forest on the first stage of the race was transformed by the removal of the invader trees.

The labour-intensive process has been renewed annually to good effect, but it remains a challenge to the funds and labour resources of the club to maintain the upper hand over the regrowth of the Wattle.

Pooling resources with the Sani Spoors team responsible for hosting the Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB races and the Euro Steel Run The Rivers trail runs and the local Trout Fishing club, the war against Wattle has found a new, well-resourced ally that aims to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the project.

The Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu (or Our Water and Humanity) works closely with the Department of Science and Technology, the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership and the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) to employ local community members to work in the river environmental programmes for eight months of the year.

“We have made major inroads in the battle against alien invaders in the uMzimkhulu valley and surrounding valleys, but we have learnt that this is not a once-off battle, it is an ongoing war,” said club chairman Rollo Woodhead.

“We have been fortunate in recent years to have a sponsor in N3TC heavily committed to this environmental work that we do, but this new partnership with Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu has the capacity to be a game-changer.

“It enables us to better staff and equip the team that we send into the valley, and at the same time creating sustainable employment for these members of our community,” he said.

“A fundamental of this project is that the people employed to carry out the eradication of the alien invaders, called Enviro Champs, are concerned local residents committed to improving their local community,” explained Woodhead.

By the time the big field of athletes descends on Underberg for the trio of sporting events that make up the Drak Adventure Weekend, the impact of the new collaboration should be evident.

“Sure, we get the immediate benefit through the clearing of the Wattle around the river we paddle down and ride and run alongside, but the real reason is to be able to leave this valley for future generations free of alien invaders in a stable and sustainable way,” said Woodhead.

The N3TC Drak Challenge canoe marathon takes place in Underberg on 29 and 30 January 2022. More information can be found at www.drakadventure.co.za

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Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic

The 2022 N3TC Drak Challenge, in partnership with FNB Logo - PNG


The Drak Adventure Weekend Logo - JPeg


Part of the team clearing the uMzimkhulu River of Black Wattle (from left) Raymond Didi, Barry Cole, Sandile Skode and Johan Sithole. After a decade-long programme of eradicating the alien invaders, a new partnership with Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu will ramp up the War Against Wattle before the start of the 2022 N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB on 29 and 30 January. Supplied/
Gameplan Media

Raymond Didi cuts down a Black Wattle tree in the uMzimkhulu valley as part of the ten-year-old initiative to rid the river of the invader species. A new partnership with Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu will ramp up the War Against Wattle before the start of the 2022 N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB on 29 and 30 January. Supplied/
Gameplan Media

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