Sunday, May 20, 2007


MEDIA RELEASE No: 2007 - 06

For immediate releaseEndsEzemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority (WA) announce that the annual harvest of iNcema rushes (Junkus kraussii) will take place at St Lucia Estuary from 2 - 16 May 2007 with a collection ticket price of R5।00 per bundle - the same as last year
The severe drought has badly affected the iNcema stock at Umalazi Nature Reserve and no harvesting will take place there - there is a good stock of reeds (Phragmites australis) however, and these will be available for harvests
EKZNW and WA expect a huge demand for iNcema rushes during the short harvesting season in May at St Lucia, with stocks looking promising in spite of the drought of the past five years and recent heavy rains

Due to heavy utilisation and development in many areas where iNcema historically occurred, the rushes are now virtually commercially extinct outside KZN's protected areas
Although it is generally against Ezemvelo KZN policy to allow commercial exploitation in protected areas, controlled harvesting is allowed inside the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park and Umlalazi Nature Reserve as iNcema is so important to Zulu culture
The harvest is allowed in demarcated areas, leaving adequate unused areas, and the timing is such that the resource is at its best and the harvesting will have least impact on the plants and their environment।The annual harvest of this resource has been allowed around St. Lucia and Umlalazi for several decades
The rushes are used to make a wide variety of traditional Zulu artefacts but particularly the sleeping mats important in marriage and funeral ceremonies. Most products are still used for cultural occasions but an increasing proportion are now made for the tourist trade
Many people trek to St. Lucia from all over KZN for a few days to collect the raw materials that they will use for the year's craftwork, underlining the critical economic importance of iNcema to many rural communities.This year EKZNW and the WA are handing over an increased amount of the iNcema harvest administration in the St. Lucia Eastern Shores area to the Land Claimants Committee in a ground-breaking joint management initiative
The EKZNW and WA staff determined the area of harvest, the amount and timing of collection but the Claimants Committee will do the rest
They will sell tickets, monitor the harvest and also help with control and transport of the resource.In a further move towards wise management the authorities are implementing rotational harvesting on the western shores at St. Lucia so that the area traditionally harvested is given a rest.Meetings have been held with representatives of the local users to work out the details of the harvesting and it is hoped that the season will be a good one for the users as well as the managers.

AJG/ Media Release No: 2007 - 06 26 April 207

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