Efforts to enlarge conservation footprint catalytic for conservation
Article by Cobus Meiring
16 May 2019
The recently launched SCLI Cape Floristic Corridor Revival and Training Programme, implemented by the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) and funded by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), may be catalytic in enlarging the conservation footprint in the region.
The Southern Cape coastal plateau is a productive agricultural hub, and over time almost all land in the Southern Cape has been transformed for the purpose of maximising agricultural output.
As a result of this land transformation, river systems in the Southern Cape are now regarded as the last remaining and relatively untransformed ecological systems in the region that can possibly be reserved for the purpose of conservation. By using the river systems to connect the Outeniqua Mountains unhindered with the Indian Ocean, the option exists to establish conservation corridors, designated to the survival of biodiversity.
The Southern Cape is listed as one of a few South African strategic water source areas, which implies that it should pay special attention to the conservation of its river systems and catchments. It is also known that these very same mountain catchments and river systems are badly affected by invasive alien plants, contributing to the further degradation of what remains of sensitive regional ecosystems and loss of habitat.
Landowners hold the key to success
Interaction with private landowners along selected river systems, in order to assist them in participating in the establishment of the proposed biodiversity corridor conservation effort, holds the key to success or failure.
Convincing landowners to address the prevalence of invasive alien plants on their land is no easy task. The control and eradication of invasive alien plants are expensive, very reliant on resources and a long-term commitment to the cause from consecutive landowners.
SCLI now aims to define the geographic footprint surrounding river systems that can serve as biodiversity corridors, and then to identify and prioritise areas that are affected by invasive alien plants.
By providing support to landowners with the development of Invasive Alien Plant Control Plans, and assisting them with training and information on dealing with invasive plant eradication and control, SCLI aims to create a conservation platform that has the potential to enhance the regional conservation footprint.
**The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform for landowners and land managers with an interest in the control and eradication of invasive alien plants. SCLI is a think tank for water stewardship, biodiversity management and climate change, and is supported by the Table Mountain Fund, a subsidiary of WWF SA.