15 May 2023 Media Release: Indaba to reflect on invasive alien plant management and control scenarios

Media Release: Indaba to reflect on invasive alien plant management and control scenarios

For Immediate Release
15 May 2023

“In February 2023 academics from Nelson Mandela and Stellenbosch Universities co-hosted a workshop with knowledgeable experts on the subject in order to share thoughts and experiences on the impact and possible solutions when dealing with invasive alien plants on a large scale.  It is quite clear that invasive alien plants remain one of the biggest risk factors facing the Southern Cape in terms of severe wildfire disasters, damaging floods, water security as well as loss of biodiversity,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

“Dr Romain Pirard who holds a PhD in Environmental Economics from Université Lyon presented at the workshop. Dr Pirard is seconded to the School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University which, as part of the South Africa – France scientific cooperation, develops research on the economics of land use for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and he provided some leading answers to the question:- Can value-added industries support the control of invasive trees in South Africa and beyond?”

Meiring added that “Because of its favourable climate and it is a high rainfall area, the Southern Cape is a hotspot for a host of invasive alien plants and trees, and their presence is on the increase with more species becoming visible as they spread over the landscape.  Pampas grass as a prime example of an alien invasive plant (there are many more) which was introduced as a garden plant in this region in the last fifteen to twenty years is now firmly established throughout the Garden Route landscape, especially in river beds and seep- lines where conditions are ideal for seeds travelling in the wind, and the spread is prolific.”

“Due to costs associated with eradicating and controlling invasive alien plants in general, landowners and land managers are constantly looking for options to mitigate the expense of dealing with IAP’s, which include options in the clean energy sector, soil enrichment as well as bio-char and stock feed mixes. Invasive trees such as pine, wattle and eucalyptus make for fine timber, but finding suitable trees in large quantities is not sustainable, and difficult to come by and harvest before they can reach sawmills. Supply is also finite throughout the region as there are no structured replanting nor harvesting regimes in place.”

“The charcoal and firewood industry in South Africa and Namibia is a multi-million rand industry, but as demand grows, those in the industry have to reach further and further away from the market to source sufficient supplies.  Areas of the Southern Cape and the Overberg have large areas covered by Rooikrans, Port Jackson, wattle and pine and that is where large-scale harvesting is currently taking place. Despite the potentially viable option to clear the land of unwanted plants and trees by selling the biomass to contractors looking for firewood, some landowners who allow harvesting entities access to their land often complain that harvesting contractors cause more harm than good when working with invasive species on their land. This can lead to aggressive regrowth when there is no methodology applied, and increased wildfire risk from dry debris left behind provides an exponentially high volume of fuel load for wildfires”.

Nevertheless, the search for solutions for the viable use of large volumes of biomass that can be harvested from landscapes badly affected by IAP’s must continue, and Dr Pirard will be delivering a presentation on the topic at the GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba which will be hosted at Nelson Mandela University on 29 June 2023.

“The GREF 2023 Indaba theme is Creating climate-smart, resilient landscapes in the Southern Cape.”

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform and climate change think tank for all those in the Southern Cape involved in active and ongoing conservation and environmental management efforts to meet up, interact and showcase what they are busy with and what they are doing in terms of planning ahead.

ENDS

Photo caption: The Southern Cape is a hothouse for invasive alien plants such as pampas grass, pine and eucalyptus which is now seen all over the Garden Route
Photo: Pamela Booth
Contact: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Indaba sal indringer-uitheemse plantbestuur- en beheerscenario’s bespreek

Akademici van Nelson Mandela en Stellenbosch Universiteite het onlangs ‘n werkswinkel gereël om die impak en potensiële oplossings vir die hantering van indringerplante op groot skaal aan te spreek. Cobus Meiring van die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum het beklemtoon dat IAP’s aansienlike risiko’s vir die Suid-Kaap-streek inhou, insluitend ernstige veldbrande, skadelike vloede, watersekuriteitskwessies en verlies aan biodiversiteit. Dr. Romain Pirard, ‘n kenner van omgewingsekonomie, het by die werkswinkel ‘n voorlegging gelewer waar hy sy insea gedeel het oor of waardetoegevoegde industrieë die beheer van indringerbome in Suid-Afrika en verder kan ondersteun.

Die Suid-Kaap, met sy gunstige klimaat en hoë reënval, is veral vatbaar vir ‘n verskeidenheid van indringer uitheemse plante en bome. Spesies is alreeds teenwoording en neem toe en versprei drasties. Pampasgras het byvoorbeeld stewig gevestig in die Tuinroete-landskap, veral in rivierbeddings waar windgedraagde sade ideale toestande vir voortplanting vind.

Die uitwissing en bestuur van IAP’s is duur, wat grondeienaars en bestuurders aangespoor het om kostedoeltreffende opsies te soek. Hierdie alternatiewe sluit in die ondersoek van geleenthede in die skoon energiesektor, grondverryking, en voorraadvoermengsels. Dit bly egter ‘n uitdaging om volhoubare en volop alternatiewe vir indringerbome soos denne, wattel en bloekom te vind, aangesien daar geen gestruktureerde herplant- of oespraktyke in plek is nie.

Die houtskool- en vuurmaakhoutbedryf in Suid-Afrika en Namibië is ‘n winsgewende sektor, maar die vraag na voorrade het gelei tot verkryging van verre plekke. Grootskaalse oes van indringerspesies, soos Rooikrans, Port Jackson, wattel en denne, vind tans in gebiede van die Suid-Kaap en Overberg plaas. Terwyl die verkoop van biomassa aan kontrakteurs wat vuurmaakhout benodig lyk na ‘n lewensvatbare opsie, spreek sommige grondeienaars kommer uit dat oeskontrakteurs meer skade as goed kan veroorsaak. Onbehoorlike metodologie kan lei tot aggressiewe hergroei, en droë takke ens. wat agtergelaat word, verhoog die risiko van veldbrande deur oorvloedige brandstof te verskaf.

Ten spyte van die uitdagings, moet die soeke na oplossings om groot volumes biomassa van IAP-geaffekteerde landskappe te benut, voortduur. Dr. Pirard sal ‘n aanbieding oor hierdie onderwerp lewer by die GREF ‘Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba’, wat geskeduleer is om op 29 Junie 2023 by die Nelson Mandela Universiteit plaas te vind.

Die tema van die Indaba is “Die skep van klimaatslim, veerkragtige landskappe in die Suid-Kaap.”

GREF dien as ‘n platform en dinkskrum vir natuurbewaarders en omgewingsbestuurpraktisyns in die Suid-Kaap streek, wat interaksie fasiliteer, deurlopende pogings ten toon stel en toekomstige beplanning bevorder om klimaatsverandering en omgewingsuitdagings aan te spreek.