In 1960 Eric Jones founded the Hermanus Botanical Society (HBS) and in the preface to the book, Fernkloof Nature Reserve the late Mayor Rudolph Smith said: “The Overstrand Municipality commends the Society on this very special project and we trust this beautiful book will ensure that Fernkloof Nature Reserve (FNR) remains Hermanus’ number one tourist attraction”.

The FNR, which includes the Cliff Path and Hoy’s Koppie, is indeed a treasure. There is a growing body of evidence confirming that we need nature for our health and well- being. As John Muir said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”

As such, many tourists visit Hermanus because of its unique sense of place and Hermanus remains one of the top destinations for eco-tourism. The Wildlife Trusts in England have indicated they would like to see nature high up on the political agenda and viewed in the same way as health, security and education. The Hermanus Botanical Society has endeavoured to do just this and credit must be paid to certain individuals:

Di Marais the chairperson of the HBS, and her team have ensured under her tutelage that fit and disabled people can enjoy hiking and enjoy the splendour of the gardens from a wheel-chair. She has created an internationally-recognised herbarium that botanists view from all over the globe. Interesting talks are arranged and so many Hermanus residents continue to learn about this special place.

Mary Anne Verster and her team have worked tirelessly to organise an annual Flower Festival where children from disadvantaged communities can come and enjoy interactions with nature. Stalls run by people from our diverse cultures together raise funds which all go to improving the facilities of the FNR and where the beauty of our fynbos is showcased for all to enjoy.

Anina Lee has been responsible for organising numerous workshops dealing with exciting aspects of nature and these have been shared at all the schools in Hermanus, Zwelihle, Gansbaai, Mount Pleasant and Hawston.

I salute all these people and my birthday wish for the society is that it continues to flourish for many years to come as the hub of Hermanus’ ecotourism.

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