The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has applied for a grant, through the Western Cape Government Provincial Treasury, to reduce the fire risk and improve the water supply.
The proposed project, budgeted at approximately R29 million, will include a coordinated alien invasive species clearing, ecological restoration plan and community training programme. It is planned for the various catchments and rivers/tributaries and their habitats within the region.
GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen says that if funding is approved, the project will contribute to the integrated development of marginalised communities through income-generating invasive alien vegetation clearing projects.
“The GRDM and partners also plan to grow the community’s skills by enhancing their knowledge about identifying alien vegetation and clearing it,” he said.
More benefits of the proposed project include:
- Restoration of ecosystem functions (i.e., nutrient cycling, habitat value);
- Protecting biodiversity;
- Initiating regrowth of indigenous plants;
- Reducing fire risks;
- Increasing water security;
- Erosion control;
- Enhancing tourism potential;
- Restoring of wetland and estuarine functions;
- Enhance tourism potential;
- Improving agricultural potential of land (grazing and crops);
- Long-term conservation of the mountain catchments, rivers, wetlands, and remaining natural; and
- Facilitate the establishment of a positive working relationship between local communities and local government.
A lot of invasive alien plants (IAP) thrive throughout the Garden Route and its seven local municipal areas. Projections indicate IAPs could double within the next 15 years if something isn’t done soon. Such plants pose a threat to biodiversity, water conservation efforts, agricultural management and fire risk management.
Managing IAPs is based on two fundamental principles – acting early and following up. This includes initial control to drastically reduce the existing IAP footprint; and controlling seedling, root suckers and regrowth. Finally, maintenance to sustain low and decreasing IAP numbers will yield more positive results.
Dr Nina Viljoen, Head of Environmental Management says many alien plants consume more water than local plants, depleting valuable underground water resources, which results in additional fuel for veld fires. “Lower slopes, river floodplains and forest and scrub vegetation are largely invaded by species such as Acacia mearnsii and Acacia melanoxylon, amongst others, said Dr Viljoen”.
Alien plant invasions are estimated to have reduced mean annual runoff in the major rivers within the district by almost 20% by 2007 (Le Maitre et al., 2013).
Where to report Alien Invasive Species
Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) – Invasive Species Forum
Call Centre: 086 111 2468
Please also contact the below person for information on training and advocacy forums:
National Invasive Species Advocacy Project (for the DFFE)
M: +27 82 659 0939
Caption: According to Dr Viljoen, Acacia melanoxylon (featured) and Acacia mearnsii have invaded many lower slopes, river floodplains, forest and scrub vegetation in the region.