A local artist and environmental NPO are rallying efforts to conserve a rare and shrinking patch of indigenous mistbelt forest on the northern edge of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, which is under threat from alien plant invasion.
Ferncliffe is the precious remnant of a biome that originally stretched over 2 000 hectares. This magical tangle of vegetation, situated right at the edge of the city’s urban sprawl, is blessed with high rainfall and is often swathed in mist.
Although Ferncliffe is small, it still contains an astonishing diversity of life, ranging from large mammals like bushpig and caracal, to unusual millipedes and amphibians, a species of carnivorous snail, and the enormous monkey-catching crowned eagle. It harbours unexpected, often secretive creatures that dwell in, and depend upon, the profusion of indigenous plants that grow there.
Unfortunately, a tide of alien plants is threatening the ecosystem's survival. This environmental degradation is an enormous problem. Now members of the public are invited to assist efforts to restore the biodiversity of this mist-drenched wonder.
To help fund the registered NPO’s vital work, local fine artist Connor Cullinan is producing a series of original art prints that are sold online as open editions via https://ferncliffe.org. Since 1991, Cullinan has participated in several solo and group exhibitions at a number of respected galleries - these include Obert Contemporary, Erdman Contemporary, Barnard, whatiftheworld and Daor Contemporary. His screenprints have been shown at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair and Turbine Art Fair. Outside of South Africa, he has showcased his work in Queretaro and Oaxaca in Mexico; his paintings and prints form part of the Nando's permanent collection and are on show in various countries; and his work is held in private collections in Europe and the United States.
His beautifully illustrated images in aid of Ferncliffe are based on the fauna and flora that can be found in the forest and on its fringes. The first two prints in this ongoing series have already been released and were produced at Black River Studio in Cape Town. They depict a tenderly hand-drawn porcupine and the vibrantly yellow Forest Weaver. These art prints make a meaningful acquisition, whether for a formal art collection or to grace the walls of your home.
There are other ways of participating in the restoration of Ferncliff too. You can adopt an existing tree, plant a tree (which comes with an exquisite tree certificate appointing you as an honorary forester), make a straightforward donation, or contribute to unemployment alleviation by sponsoring a day’s wage to clear invasive aliens. Whether it’s for conscious corporate gifting, or a thoughtful gesture for a friend or loved one, you’ll be reaffirming how much the world needs forests, and how much these forests need us…
Shop with purpose at https://ferncliffe.org/support/.
Support Ferncliffe via social media: