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20 November 2023 Media Release: Garden Route environment suffers as SA economy shrinks

Garden Route environment suffers as SA economy shrinks

For immediate release
20 November 2023

“Maintaining a healthy environment requires money as any land manager will agree,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Dealing with the eradication and constant control of fast-spreading invasive alien plants (IAP’s) in the Garden Route is a particularly expensive exercise, and although private landowners in the Garden Route go to great lengths to clear their land in line with legislation pertaining to invading plant and tree species management, they are facing an uphill battle as the costs related to petrol, herbicide and labour soars. Similarly, mountain catchments and rivers are badly affected by invasive species such as pines and wattle, and there simply is no longer sufficient funding available for authorities to effectively deal with the scourge.

Established some three decades ago to deal with invasive alien plants on a national scale and in the process generate much-needed jobs, the Working for Water Programme is not able to make dent on the spread of invasive plants in the Garden Route as less money becomes available from Treasury and state- sponsored business models to clear land in collaboration with supporting environmental management agencies proves difficult to implement, and with land cleared often falling back to historic densities as essential but expensive follow- up work is not conducted.

The advent of climate change enhance the presence of IAP’s on the landscape, and the accumulative effect this have on the destruction of bio- diversity and availability of fresh water resources lost from catchments and rivers systems already impacts on water security in South Africa. In addition, a warmer climate with hotter and stronger winds impacts on stored water in dams and reservoirs as higher than normal evaporation rates takes its toll.

The South African economy and the country’s ability to manage its environment is inextricably intertwined and critical to understand that if all in the country strives to a higher quality of life and environment, a prospering and fast- growing economy is not negotiable.

Food and water security is vital for the future of South Africa and all its citizens, and the dire state of sewerage management systems country- wide, polluted rivers and the spread of invasive alien plants deserves urgent attention.

During its annual Key- Stakeholder report- back event on 13 December, GREF will be highlighting some of the most burning issues related to environmental management in the Garden Route.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental management and conservation entities in the Southern Cape.

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Photo: Clearing Land
Caption: Costs related to clearing land of invasive alien plants soar.