SCLI INTERVIEW WILLIE FOURIE AT EDEN DISTRICT COUNCIL
In collaboration with SANParks’ s efforts to clear invasive alien plants in Garden Route
National Park buffer zones (and thereby enlarging the conservation footprint), Eden District
has a developed strategy in dealing with invasive alien plants affecting road reserves.

In an ongoing series of interviews with land managers regarding the control and eradication of invasive alien plants, Cobus Meiring from the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), interviewed Willie Fourie – Manager of Property Development, Planning and Resorts from Eden District Municipality’s Environmental Management Unit.

CM: Willie, you have been working for Eden District for some years, spending a lot of time on invasive alien plant control: are we winning the war on invasive alien plants (IAP’s) in the area?
WF: As for all landowners in Eden, alien plant management is a constant challenge for EDM, and the extent of the problem, due to our favourable climate and high rainfall, is significant.

CM: Eden encompasses some of South- Africa’s most important conservation areas, as well as national and provincial nature reserves. How does Eden compliment the work done by conservation bodies to enhance conservation objectives?
WF: Eden has a strong focus on environmental management, aimed at maintaining conservation values, and has identified the creation of weed free road sections to significantly enlarge the Eden conservation footprint.

CM: By law the Council must address IAP’s on its properties.
WF: EDM must at all times comply with the laws that govern the environment. In terms of both CARA and NEMBA, Eden DM has to control and eradicate IAP’s. EDM has an Environmental Management Unit, and we have a strategy on IAP’s, which informs and prioritizes areas of operation.

WF: Remember that, over and above approximately 4 375 hectares of property under management by Eden, we also manage hundreds of kilometres of road verges we have to keep clear of invasives.
The EDM Invasive Alien Plant management strategy informs management where to eradicate and control. The fact is that IAP’s have an aggressive rate of re-growth, and we make provision in the strategy to address IAP re-growth.

CM: Are you able to access funding from national government’s Working for Water Programme?
WF: EDM has for years managed WFW programmes in the district. However, the Board has, some years ago, decided that the Working for Water model is not suitable to the management demands of the Council. The Working for Water Programme has a strong socio- economic and job creation objective. In as much as we support the principles of WFW, the management demands it poses on EDM, in terms of implementation, falls outside our scope of work. This was also the experience of George City Council, which now drives its own IAP management programmes.

CM: How do you see the role of landowners in terms of the relevant regulation and contribution towards IAP management?
WF: Controlling and eradicating IAP’s is every landowner’s responsibility. EDM encourages landowners to clear their land of IAP’s, not only in terms of the relevant legislation, but also from an environmental responsibility point of view. The fire risk posed by IAP’s is real and present in the Southern Cape, and everybody must do their bit to keep their land clear of invasives.

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 supported by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF).

Written by Cobus Meiring