For this blog post I was made to visit a nature reserve, green space or park in and around the area that I live. The park I discuss in this post is Gillooly’s Farm in Senderwood, which is located in the east of Johannesburg. Don’t be deceived by the name, as it is not a farm, although ducks are farm animals and there are vast amounts of them at Gillooly’s.
I have been going to Gillooly’s farm since I was a baby. It was a great place for picnics and walking your dogs and just all round family fun. Eventually we had to stop going to Gillooly’s as it started to deteriorate and become a bit of a safety risks as there were a few bad incidents on the hill that runs along the side of Gillooly’s. This hill had become a place of refuge for homeless people and criminals.
On my most recent visit I went to do a ParkRun, which has become a bit of an international phenomena around the world. ParkRun recently made Gillooly’s their newest running venue and so therefore there were many people there the day I visited Gilloolys. Gillooly’s had an energetic feel about it and the large amount of people made it feel safe. Everyone ran in a group and there were marshals at multiple points on the route. The fact that everyone was there and enjoying the run so much gave a sense of fun and safety in a before not so safe environment. During the run I didn’t manage to really take in my surroundings as I was concentrating on not suffocating to death but after I was finished I had a walk about with my family and I then noticed some important things.
Fauna and Flora
To start with the Fauna as it is not as abundant as the flora. The main animals that you encounter at Gillooly’s and the ones I saw during my visit would most obviously be the ducks and geese as they live on the sides of the Dam and on the island in the Dam. There are rodents that take shelter in the ivy bushes that line the entrance of the park. There are also squirrels, which take shelter in the large oak trees, which are scattered around the park. On my visit there were also many types of dogs as the people involved in the run enjoy bringing their fury friends to join them.
To move onto Flora as there are vast amounts of Flora at Gillooly’s. Many species of trees grow at the park: such as the Willow trees, which hang low over the banks of the dam and create shade for the ducks and geese. As well as the above-mentioned oak trees which create shade for the visitors of the park. It being a park it obviously has a lot of grass for all the open space. There are water reeds and bull rushes in the dam that the ducks and geese take shelter in. The ivy lines the whole entrance of the park and along a lot of the pathways. The last obvious flora that I saw would be the cypress trees which run along the far side of the dam.
Importance of Gillooly’s Farm
Gillooly’s is important for the community as it creates a natural and outdoor space in a very over populated and built up area that never really slows down. This is important as it is a good place to get some exercise and fresh air as well as it is good for people’s pets as it is a place where they can run and be free from the confines of a garden.
It is important for the environment because in such a built up area there are generally a lack of anything to do with nature. Although the Senderwood area does have a lot of trees it is a place where the trees and plants are safe from being cut down. It is also a place for animals to seek shelter and whose habitats have been destroyed or disrupted by construction. It is a place for these animals to find shelter and calm in the hustle bustle of the urban area.
There were a few things that concerned me when walking around Gillooly’s. Firstly it would be the rubbish, and although there are a vast amount of rubbish bins in and around the park people don’t seem to have grasped this concept of throwing rubbish into them. This could be a risk to both the plants and animals that visit and live in the park. The second thing I saw was the duck and geese feces that line the closest side of the dam that is by the restaurant and the finish line of the ParkRun. It is said and researched that bird feces can be harmful and toxic to both people and animals. There is a foam substance in the water of the dam and although it can be from natural causes it can also be from harmful chemicals that are dumped in the water and so that brings up the question of what is being dumped in the dam and who is using the dam for their waste disposal.
Remedies for the Environmental Concerns
With regards to the litter there is not much that can be done as people choose to litter and so therefore maybe a solution could be to put up signs warning against littering just to make people more aware of what they are doing. Adding even MORE rubbish bins could also maybe help so there is no excuse.
In regards to the duck and geese feces the park have tried to contain the bird to the far side of the dam and have closed off the side by the path and the restaurant but the mesh they used wasn’t strong enough and the birds got through. It is a lot better than before they had the mesh and most of the feces are on the other side of the mesh and so they are definitely moving in the right direction. Lastly with the foam there could be a fine system in place to discourage people from dumping waste and chemicals into the dam and therefore making it safer for everyone to be around.
Making the Sight more Visible to the Community
I think that if the park put a few more security guards and had a bit of a police presence that people would be happier to go and enjoy time there as they are not aware that it has become a bit of a safer place than it used to be. The restaurant could have small events and live music to encourage people to come there for lunch on the weakened with their families and friends. Of course lastly some more signage and advertising of the park could be done to make people aware that it is actually there are running.
My visit opened my eyes to how much the park has improved since the time it started to deteriorate. The park has implemented some things to make it more inviting and encourages people to come and enjoy the park for the reason that is was put there and that is as a outdoor natural area away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
IAQ learning institute. (2015). The human health dangers of bird droppings. Available: http://pureaircontrols.com/human-health-dangers-bird-droppings-associated-building-hvac-systems/. Last accessed 25 April 2016.
RappFlow. (2015). Whats that foam in the water?. Available: http://www.rappflow.org/resources/faq.html. Last accessed 25 April 2016.