“The only thing you do the same as everyone else is breathe”, a friend of mine once told me. Funny as it may seem, that’s one of the best compliments someone has ever paid me. Growing up, my father told me never to believe what someone told me if it didn’t make sense, regardless of who told it to you. He was basically teaching me to think critically for myself and to arm me mentally for some of the crap that one gets drummed into your head at boarding school. I have always tried to think for myself and form my own opinions. My opinions on wattle trees are maybe a little controversial, but hear me out. What’s the point of having an opinion and not sharing it.
By the way, for foreign readers, a wattle tree that’s indigenous to Australia and has taken to South Africa like a duck to water. It’s taken over large areas of good grazing land where no trees existed before. It is probably South Africa’s most invasive tree.
I don’t like wattle trees one bit, at least not on my farm. I even have an ongoing wattle eradication program. So why my title of Bless the Black Wattle? Well I try to look at the positive side of things, and look for opportunities, rather than focusing just on the negatives, and wattle trees certainly have some positive attributes. I spend a lot of time fishing rivers that flow through the former homeland/tribal areas. There’s some great fishing to be had in these areas and importantly for me is that not many other fly fishers ever bother with these streams. They are often surrounded by huts and arable lands, but there are some very beautiful and relatively unspoiled areas within the tribal lands. There must be 50 such streams that hold trout in KZN and in the Eastern Cape. Many of these streams rise in natural forest which is surprisingly pristine. Something I often wondered about is why haven’t the forests been cut down?
Obviously it’s a multi factorial issue, but the main one I can see is that the people in the villages prefer to use wattle as firewood, and thankfully wattle trees are plentiful. All along the rivers I fish you can see the stumps of cut down wattle trees. Most of the natural forests have got wattle trees growing along their fringes and I will often see pickup trucks going and exclusively cutting down and loading up wattle. One of my favourite places that I wrote about in my last article, “My Secret Paradise…” is one such area. There are literally hundreds of hectares of natural forest in pristine condition, and all bordered by rural Transkei. The people of the villages specifically choose the wattle over any if the indigenous trees for firewood and building their traditional houses. The wattle saplings are easy to cut down, and are long and straight for tying in big bundles to carry on their heads or loading on a trailer. The wood is relatively hard and burns slowly, it’s very plentiful, and it regrows quickly. Part of my parents house is a rondavel, built with mud and wattle, which is the traditional way of building houses in the Transkei. So to dismiss the wattle tree as something that needs to be eradicated might be foolish. I certainly don’t want it taking over my land but to thousands if not millions of people living in the former Transkei and other tribal areas, it’s their main source of firewood and one of their main building materials. For those who like renewable energy, then you just can’t beat it. You cut down a wattle forest and in 5 of 10 years time you have the next generation of saplings ready for harvest. If we were to find a solution to eradicate wattle trees, it could have devastating effects on the last pockets of natural forest left in our former homelands. Imagine now seeing a tractor and trailer loaded with chopped up yellow wood, or stink wood trees being used for firewood and building, now that would be tragic!
Other than my controversial opinions on black wattle Wattle, I have lots more contoversial opinions. What better place to share them than on my very own blog. Im going to list a few things where I think my opinions differ from most of you out there, and maybe I can shed some light on why I believe what I do. Some of you might be offended or think I’m an idiot and decide to not read my blog after this, but I am not writing this for a fan club, it’s for me, my family and my little boy to read one day. You just happen to be able to read it if you want, and see some beautiful photos of places where not many people have been let alone cast a fly.
1. Obviously how and why I fish is different to most people out there. I am more interested in exploring and finding new rivers than I am interested in catching big fish. I would guess that of the 10 or 15 rivers I have written about so far that very few, if any, who have read my blog who have fished more than one or two of the rivers mentioned.
2. I would guess that there are not many serious fisherman who who keep it as simple as I do on the river in terms of gear and fly choice.
3. I am sceptical about the use of expensive materials it our flies. I even question whether CDC or CDL is worthwhile using. That’s a bit like someone saying that the world is flat when we know it’s round. I will have an ongoing discussion and a blog post on my use of CDC. CDC is great looking stuff and I am trying to prove myself wrong on this one because I like tying with it, but so far on my fishing trips this spring and summer I have found no reason to believe it’s superior in any way. Watch this space, I love learning and if I prove myself wrong, then hey I will catch more fish for it.
Now for a few controversial ideas regarding issues other than fishing.
4. I believe that climate change of the nature that we have experienced is mainly a naturally driven process and that CO2 is not the main driver of the climate. Climate change has taken place before and that we understand very little about what caused the last ice age, what ended it, and what caused the medieval warm period. If we can’t explain exactly how those episodes happened, then I suggest that climate scientists haven’t a clue about what’s going on now either. Another huge question that needs to be answered is why are satellite temperatures indicating no warming for close on 20 years and the land surface data shows significant warming. The lower troposphere is supposed to warm faster than the surface according to models. What’s rediculous is that me questioning this, I am called a “Denier”, and please don’t mention the 97% etc etc, since when has science been about consensus. Here is a graph I found comparing the satellite and land surface data. http://euanmearns.com/the-diverging-surface-thermometer-and-satellite-temperature-records-again/
5. I believe that extra CO2, the most important plant fertiliser, is a wonderful addition environment. It is a huge benefit to the growth of all organisms that photosynthesize who are the foundation of life on earth as we know it. The crop yields of today are way higher due to new biotechnology and better farming methods, but don’t forget the benifit of CO2 and warmer temperatures in boosting crop yields. A warmer world with higher CO2 levels will be times of plenty. A significantly colder world will be a disaster for the human race. In human history, the warm periods have been times of plenty and the colder periods have coincided with times of crop failures and famine. Here follows a link to a fascinating time-line of human history and the climate over that period.
6. I believe in the greatness of man and the human race. I believe in human ingenuity and that to solve the problems facing the world today we need more freedom and liberty, not more government regulation which stifles innovation.
7. We live in one of the most peaceful times in the history of mankind. There have always been wars and fighting, and the main beneficiaries of the war on terror today are the government’s who are waging the wars. They will use every excuse to infringe on the freedom of the individual, all in the name of fighting an unknown enemy.
8. I do not believe in a God of any sorts, but I could be swayed to become a Pastafarian as it makes more sense to me than any other religion. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster
Fairly different yes, and controversial yes, amusing to some. Someone out there might even agree with me on all those accounts, I’m sure my 3 month old son will. Now that I have torpedoed my popularity, I will get back to writing stories about exploring beautiful remote mountains streams.
Comments and debate are most welcome.
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