Invasive Plant Management and Control

Invasive Plant Management is a critical component of sustainable land utilisation in South Africa. We take a systems view of improving landscapes through plant control.

Invasive plants pose significant threats to South Africa’s water security, biodiversity and risk of wildfires. Because of their severe effects on landscape functionality, invasive alien plants are regulated by South African law.

The National Environmental Management Act (Act 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) is the act which regulates the control of invasive alien plants. Invasive species must be managed by landowners under this act. Failure to do so may result in hefty fines and potential lawsuits for landowners. The potential cost of inaction can be far greater than the costs of clearing, though clearing is not necessarily a cheap or easy endeavour.

Other regulations which are relevant to the management of invasive species include the National Veld And Forest Fire Act (1998), Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (1983), and the Outeniqua Sensitive Coastal Area regulations (1996), which only applies in specific cases in the Southern Cape.

Our approach to invasive plant management is pragmatic and realistic. We see control of invasive alien plants as a long term goal which is locally specific and determined by a variety of factors. To do a good job with managing these persistent species we try pair the needs of the landowner with the dynamics of ecosystem processes to achieve best-possible results over the short and long term. By understanding the underlying ecology of endemic and invasive species, we can design and implement interventions which are most cost effective while prioritising ecosystem restoration and legal compliance.

While invasive pose a number of problems to land owners, they can also be utilised for their resources, from firewood and timber, to high quality wood chips for increased landscape fertility and productivity. We try to take a closed loop perspective on invasive plants, managing their inherent characteristics for best landscape and human returns and generating value from their harvest where possible.

 

Before- High density wattle infestation leading to increased fire and legal risk, and decreased water availability and biodiversity
After- Firewood and woodchips as byproducts of invasive clearing