Hillcrest Conservancy encompasses the area from Acutts Drive in the north and the M13 in the south, the ridge above West Riding, Kassier Road on the west and Ashley Drive on the east, including Springside Nature Reserve, an ecologically critical green lung which runs through Hillcrest Park.
Springside Nature Reserve, proclaimed in 1948 and flagship of Hillcrest Conservancy, has 20ha of rich biodiversity: forest, grassland and wetland.
The forested areas provide shelter, nesting sites and food for many bird species; the grassland nurtures a multitude of indigenous wildflowers; and the natural wetland, among the few remaining in KZN, filters the stream, conserves water in droughts and reduces flood damage, whilst sustaining a vital wildlife habitat.
Springside Nature Reserve was seldom used until the 1980′s when a group of Hillcrest residents, mainly from Rotary and Lions Clubs, Scout Group, Hillcrest Primary and High Schools and the Wildlife Society, formed a Steering Committee to manage the Reserve, backed by Hillcrest Town Board (see footnote for more history of Springside Nature Reserve). The current Hillcrest Conservancy voluntary committee, together with eThekwini Department of Natural Resources, continues to ensure the preservation of this valuable natural asset for all to enjoy.
Apart from the natural beauty of the Reserve itself, Springside Nature Reserve offers:
- Shady picnic area with braai stands and benches;
- Kingfisher Centre for environmental activities, including Meetings, Training and Presentations;
- Information Boards;
- Easy walks on well maintained and signposted trails;
- Regular monthly guided walks with knowledgeable leaders;
- Annual Wildflower weekend;
- All events are advertised by e-mail and in the local press
Hillcrest Conservancy motto: “To observe and become involved with all environmental issues in order to meaningfully contribute to good conservation practice in co-operation with any relevant authorities.”
- Assist eThekwini in the management and improvement of Springside Nature Reserve.
- Organise environmental walks, talks, outings and events in Springside Nature Reserve; Alien & Invasive Plants and Environmental training
- Assist other Environment Conservation groups
- Work parties tackling A&IP’s in and around Hillcrest
- The Committee also arranges activities and events to supplement the limited funds from eThekwini Department of Natural Resources.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SPRINGSIDE NATURE RESERVE [Extracts from Rotary Club of Hillcrest and Lions Club records]
In 1975 Hillcrest Rotary Club made a commitment to Hillcrest Town Board to develop the open space in Hillcrest Park, proclaimed as a Nature Reserve in 1948, as compensation for land in Knelsby Avenue which was donated to establish Kingfisher Crest for Senior Citizens. On record is a letter from Hillcrest Town Board dated April 1984 to the Lions Club of Hillcrest, agreeing to a Cash-Grant-in-Aid and to make available equipment and labour for Springside Nature Reserve. Support was also received for Springside Nature Reserve from the Wild Life Society, other Service Clubs, Hillcrest Scout Group, and the committees of local Schools.
SPRINGSIDE NATURE RESERVE: A start was made in October 1975 when volunteers planted 5000 indigenous trees and trails were laid out. A Steering Committee was established in July 1982 by members of these groups to administer the ongoing project.
A Constitution was adopted in 1987, detailing the management powers of the Committee as a sub-committee of Hillcrest Town Board.
In 1994, the toilet block was built with assistance from the Rotary Club of Hillcrest and a Resource Centre was “kick-started” with a R10 000 donation from the Rotary Club of Hillcrest. Building commenced in 1995 and was named the Kingfisher Centre, incorporating the Malachite Kingfisher used in the Rotary Club of Hillcrest logo.
Rotary Club of Hillcrest installed braais and rustic benches for the picnic area. In 2005 the Analematic Sundial was built by the Rotary Club of Hillcrest to commemorate the Centennial milestone of Rotary International.
Rotary Club of Hillcrest members continue to be represented on the management committee and assist with events and projects in the Reserve.