Hillcrest Conservancy encompasses the area from Acutts Drive in the north and the M13 in the south, the ridge above West Riding, Kassier Rd on the west and Ashley Drive on the east, including Springside Nature Reserve, an ecologically critical green lung that runs through Hillcrest Park.
Springside Nature Reserve, the flagship of Hillcrest Conservancy, was proclaimed in 1948 and encompasses 20ha of rich biodiversity: forest, grassland and wetland. The forested areas provide shelter, nest 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. The nature reserve was seldom used until the 1980′s when a group of Hillcrest residents, mainly from Rotary and Lions Clubs, Scout Group, Primary and High Schools and Wildlife Society formed a Steering Committee to manage the Reserve, backed by the Hillcrest Town Board. 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 beauty of the Reserve itself, Springside offers easy walks on well maintained and clearly marked trails, a shady picnic area, a Resource Centre for environmental education and presentations, and regular guided walks with knowledgeable leaders, talks by experts, children’s programmes, and more. Watch the local press for upcoming events.
Friends of Springside Nature Reserve is a group of individuals and organisations who understand the precious value of this greenbelt within the midst of Hillcrest Conservancy, and hold as their 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.”
Hillcrest Conservancy projects:
- Assistance to eThekwini in the management and improvement of Springside Nature Reserve
- Organising environmental walks, talks, outings and events in Springside Nature Reserve
- Embo outreach programme in the “pipeline”
- Invasive Alien Plant and Environment Law seminars
- Assistance for other groups, e.g. KHBA clearing for the new Trailway, Hillcrest Park Neighborhood Watch
- Work parties tackling IAP in and around Hillcrest
The work of the committee is considerable. It organises a number of activities and events in an effort to build a small but vital fund and running a membership drive, as many of the projects cannot be funded through the limited funds available from the eThekwini Department of Natural Resources