We live in a time where resources to control and eradicate IAP’s are dwindling, whilst at the same time the effects of climate change and drought are having a diverse effect on our natural resources, says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).

Devastating fires, raging through the Western and Southern Cape, highlights the effects of invasive alien plants, and gives us all the more reason for concern when we know how resilient and aggressive invasive alien plants are.

Acute water shortages have become the order of the day, whilst we know that invasive alien plants absorb more than its fair share of available water in catchments.

Whilst in some respects we have, through SCLI and the conservation forums, made inroads in efforts to control and eradicate IAP’s, we are not necessarily on our way to winning the war.

The Outeniqua mountains are littered by pine trees, our rivers and streams are almost, without exception, strangled by Wattles and the coast is lined with Rooikrans and Port Jackson.

On the Southern Cape landscape we see a steady increase in the presence of Madeira vine, Pampas Grass and Lantana.

As government continues to tighten the screw on landowners in terms of the relevant environmental legislation, they are being forced to do more to clear their land of invasive alien plants, and control re-growth.

At the same time, uncertainty rules on the management of thousands of hectares of mountain catchments and government owned land, where the management of the land is seemingly a political playfield.

So where do we go from here, and how can we use the partnerships we have forged to the collective best advantage?

Spread of invasive alien plants

The Southern Cape is blessed with natural beauty, but overall the state of the environment is threatened by the unabated spread of invasive alien plants

Several large land owners and land managers in our region, such as SANParks, Eden District Municipality, SANRal, MTO, PG Bison and many others are committed to control and eradication of invasive alien plants.

These entities have allocated substantial resources to control and eradicate, and have the experience to do so effectively.

Given the extent of the problem in the Southern Cape, the large landowners intend to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The intention is, as a collective, to plan jointly and address geographical areas where the effect will have maximum value, and where invasive alien plants can successfully, and sustainably, be controlled and eradicated.

By leading through example, and not forgetting the huge contribution made by private landowners, and a great many weed forums and conservancies, we can make a difference.

On 25 May SCLI will be co-hosting an annual seminar with Eden District Municipality, on invasive alien plants in the Southern Cape. This will be the 7th edition of the annual SCLI seminar, and those who wish to attend can contact janet@papertreeprojects.co.za (www. scli.org.za)

The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), is a public platform for landowners and land managers who have an interest in the control and eradication of invasive alien plants. SCLI is supported by the Table Mountain Fund, an associated trust of WWF SA, visit www.wwf.org.za for more information.

Written by Cobus Meiring