Training and commitment ensures quality of work in landscape rehabilitation
“Since the 2017 Knysna and 2018 Outeniqua fires when well over one hundred thousand hectares were burnt to the ground, landowners in the Southern Cape did a tremendous amount of work to reduce wildfire risks by reducing invasive alien plant biomass on their land, as well as ensuring that fire breaks are kept clear and accessible, with sufficient defendable spaces around dwellings,” says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).
According to Meiring, land management, and dealing with invasive alien species, in particular, requires resources, trained individuals, and a fair amount of commitment.”
“As part of the SCLI Cape Floristic Corridor Revival initiative, aimed at optimizing the ability of Southern Cape rivers and catchments to serve as biodiversity migration corridors by clearing them from invasive alien plants, a substantial amount of time and effort was invested in training both landowners in best practice models in dealing with invasive alien plant eradication and control.”
“The result of training and by providing sustained guidance and hands-on support to landowners and contractors in their efforts to deal with invasive alien plant regrowth and mature biomass, contributed significantly in terms of the levels of success achieved by conservancies and private landowners.”
“The importance of training in dealing with invasive plants on your land can save a landowner or land manager literally thousands of rand in dealing with the problem effectively. For example, landowners with dense stands of wattle on their land have no choice but to make use of a suitable herbicide in order to prevent regrowth or coppicing, and if they use the wrong technique in cutting down the problem plants or mix the expensive herbicide wrong, then the whole exercise could turn out be a complete waste of time,” says Meiring.
Photograph: Westford Bridge Conservancy and Dion Gaylard: Dion Gaylard of Westford Bridge Conservancy. The area formerly under dense invasive alien plants was rehabilitated back to a full bouquet of Coastal Fynbos. Following the 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster, the Westford Bridge Conservancy, bordering the Knysna River, invested considerable resources in ensuring that the conservancy reverts back to indigenous Fynbos, and staff members attended several training workshops hosted by SCLI on how best to deal with the control and eradication of invasive alien plants. Today, Westford Bridge Conservancy, under the management of Dion Gaylard, is an environmental and alien invasive species eradication success story.
**The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform and think tank for landowners and land managers with an interest in invasive alien plant management, water stewardship and land management. SCLI is supported by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), a subsidiary of WWF SA. SCLI is steering a project, the SCLI Cape Floristic Corridor Revival and Training Programme, as a regional initiative to improve efforts to enhance the survival of the Southern Cape floristic footprint. The project focuses on long-term landowner involvement in the eradication and control of invasive alien vegetation. It is a three-year project, aimed at entrenching the principle of corridor conservation objectives over time, and obtaining landowner commitment and support through the direct investment of the development of invasive alien plant control plans as well as training. The project entails the establishment of a network of north/south conservation corridors along selected river systems – Groot Brak, Kaaimans, Touws, Knysna and Goukamma – in the Southern Cape.