Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) teams up with Husqvarna South Africa to tackle climate change and environmental management

“A fast-changing climate brings changes to the way landowners are managing plant growth, both indigenous and invasive alien species, on their land,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 brought about a new urgency to better manage natural resources in Africa if we were to survive the “new normal”. However, it is expected that the effects of climate change will in the long-term have a vastly more severe impact than that brought about by COVID-19.

As the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) puts the spotlight on the effects of climate change on the landscape, the forum teamed up with Husqvarna SA and interviewed Veld Management specialist, Divan Vermaak, on the challenges landowners are facing, and on modern-day best practice models and equipment available to land managers.

Rethink approach to land and veld management

Says Vermaak, “A steady change in the South African climate results in changing rainfall patterns, ever-later change-over of seasons, persistent drought in many areas, regular and more intense veld and bushfires and aggressive bush encroachment as a result of changing vegetation patterns on the landscape.”

“New risks in the environment brought about changes that forced land managers to have to rethink the way they approach land and veld management. Land suitable for production purposes, such as grazing, come at a premium, and land users can scant afford available productive land to go to waste as a result of bush encroachment or being exposed to extremely hot and regular wildfire intervals.”

“Water resources and water catchments are increasingly becoming under pressure as invasive alien plants lay claim to riverbanks and streams, which in turn dries up all available water to such an extent that previously sustainable farms are no longer viable as boreholes, wells and streams run dry.”

Landowners are often overwhelmed by costs related to land management when faced with bush encroachment and the eradication and control of invasive alien plants on their land.

Bush encroachment can reduce the potential of land

“Very often the scale of the problem is such that landowners choose rather to ignore than to face the challenge posed by encroaching vegetation, but in the process dramatically and systematically reduce the potential of their land,” says Vermaak.

“New technology and modern equipment does, however, open up prospects for landowners in dealing with problem plants. Whilst training and maintenance will always remain a cornerstone of effective land management and the positive impact thereof, there are extremely effective machines available to landowners that can make a vast difference to land managers and the long-term sustainability of their land.”

Concludes Vermaak, “Authorities require land managers to develop best management practices in line with regulation and, in the presence of invasive alien plants, to have Invasive Alien Plant Control Plans in place. These control plans advocate a pragmatic approach to problem plants, and we support the notion thereof as it enables land managers to plan a sustainable management effort and invest in the right equipment for the best results.”

For more information please visit / or for best practice guidelines on veld management.

Photo: Unabated encroachment of invasive alien plants and pioneer species can make viable land worthless and dry up all available water sources if not managed properly. (Photo: Husqvarna SA) 

** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serves as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape and strives to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.

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