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Garden Route Environmental Forum

6 December 2023 Media Release: GREF to reflect on COP28

Media Release: GREF to reflect on COP28

For immediate release
6 December 2023

The COP28 Climate Change Conference is hosted by the United Nations running from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai and is intended for governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) on the eve of its Key Stake- holder event taking place on 13 December in Wilderness.

Reducing the drivers of climate change is easier said than done as the global dependence on fossil fuels is universal and the transition to alternative sources of energy is extremely slow and complex in their implementation as the South African effort towards the Just energy Transition (JET) is a case in point.

COP28 is already finding itself in a highly politicised milieu as major role players, including the United Arab Emirates which is hosting the event in Dubai is questioning the very essence of the global drive towards the reduction of emissions contributing to the global rise in temperature, with 2023 already described as the warmest year in recorded history and 2024 predicted to be worse according to the latest UN report on the matter.

The fact that South Africa is already experiencing an increase in climate related disasters including severe flooding, fire and drought is concerning, and it comes at a time where the country is suffering from the effects of retarded economic growth and environmental mismanagement at all levels manifesting in unbridled development, poverty, joblessness and social unrest as expectations in terms of service delivery are not met by the powers that be.

In the face of the challenges South Africa has to face as the climate changes irreversibly, there is much the country can do to be better prepared for environmental changes, including changes in rainfall patterns which will no doubt impact on the quality of life and future prospects of a fast- growing population facing food, energy and water security uncertainty.

Past and present failure by government at all levels to plan ahead and develop policies that will contribute to better environmental management and the safeguarding of natural resources, especially water and the infrastructure required to ensure that future generations don’t suffer as a result of a lack of responding to early warnings must serve as a wake- up call to all.

The state of South Africa rivers and effluent from defunct sewerage plants, water resource management as well as the failure to address the spread of invasive alien plants and the resultant destruction of bio- diversity will prove detrimental to the country’s ability to cope with the challenges a change in climate will impose upon the nation with its limited resources.

GREF will revisit the outcomes of COP28 during its Annual Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba to be co- hosted with the Nelson Mandela University in June 2024.

GREF is the premier public platform for regional environmental and conservation managers in the Southern Cape.

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9 November 2023 Media Release: Natural splendour awaits tourists to the Garden Route

Media Release: Natural splendour awaits tourists to the Garden Route

For immediate release
9 November 2023

“Following an extremely wet winter the Southern Cape is showcasing is natural beauty, and tourists planning to visit the region during the festive season, will not be disappointed,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Following many years of drought and hardship the Klein Karoo environment is also finally recovering and with summer in full swing, the region is flourishing with vegetation, ample grazing and dams filled to the brim. The Outeniqua mountains and the regional coastline still bear the scars of relentless rain and storms during the winter months, but nature is resilient and bound to recover.

The Southern Cape biodiversity is flourishing following favourable rains during the winter months.

The Garden Route is blessed with several custodians of its natural splendour, and with large areas protected and under mandated and private conservation management, the region will always retain much of its marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Pro-active actions and initiatives by regional conservation entities such as the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve (GRBR), the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR), the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), SANParks, WWF and Cape Nature collectively recognize the importance of conserving the global significance of the Southern Cape biodiversity. In addition to these recognized conservation entities there are numerous conservancies, governmental and environmental management forums and private and public nature reserves present and active in all parts of the region.

A changing climate will bring new challenges to the Southern Cape environment, and with almost unpredictable rainfall patterns new challenges are looming for the environment and the communities dependent on its resilience.

In addition, invasive alien plants dominate large parts of the Southern Cape’s environmentally sensitive mountain catchments, rivers and wetlands, and landowners are fighting an uphill battle in eradication and control of fast- spreading wattles, pine, Rooikrans and a myriad of lesser known invasive species which all pose a significant threat in terms of the destruction of biodiversity, water security and the ever-present danger of wild fire disaster as the summer heat is bound to dry out vegetation in the coming months.

In celebration of regional conservation efforts, GREF is hosting its annual Key-Stakeholder Report-back Event on 13 December in Wilderness, allowing regional environmental and conservation entities to showcase their programmes and initiatives.

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


Picture/ caption: The Robinson Pass, South Africa, alive with beautiful yellow, orange, red and pink proteas. The mountains seem endless and misty in the distance. -GRDM

Issued: Cobus Meiring, Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)

26 October 2023 Media Release: Collapse of natural infrastructure proves costly in Kaaimans

Media Release: Collapse of natural infrastructure proves costly in Kaaimans

For Immediate Release
26 October 2023

“Following heavy and consistent rain on Saturday, 21 October 2023, the collapse of a seep-line on the western slope of the Kaaimans gorge caused a landslide leading to the temporary closure of the N2 highway. This left the mountainside scarred with severe loss of indigenous vegetation,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Streams, seep-lines and wetlands on mountain slopes play an important role in ensuring the geological integrity of mountain slopes and their ability to direct and absorb water flow. Sand dunes, rivers, streams, mountain catchments, forests and many other examples are referred to as natural infrastructure, and collectively they play an irreplaceable role in ensuring the well-being of nature and the human population it supports.

Hard infrastructure, such as the N2 highway is constructed on a sensitive and geologically unstable mountain slope through Wilderness and the Kaaimans gorge. This type of area is prone to landslides and will always be at risk of mountainside collapse (or partial collaps) under certain circumstances such as torrential rain. The impact of invasive alien plants on the landscape and upper catchments affecting river function and health, also has negative snowball effects on rivers and streams to cope with large volumes of water flow during floods. This is because it strips river banks of natural vegetation binding river banks and protecting soils.

Indigenous vegetation plays a vital and irreplaceable role in ensuring soil stability on steep slopes, and unfortunately, the forests on the western slope of Kaaimans gorge, have in recent years been badly affected by a creeper plant overgrowing forest vegetation. This type of vegetation causes the collapse of the forest canopy under its weight with trees dying off. It then leaves the seep-line and rivulet’s shallow soil structure susceptible to collapse once it becomes waterlogged. Sufficient surface vegetation would have kept it firmly in place and prevented it from sliding downward.

Rehabilitating the damaged water course in Kaaimans will pose a challenge as all the vegetation and topsoil slid down the slope and washed away. It should be considered to investigate the stability of the remainder of the western slope to determine if is stable or posing further risks to the N2 highway.

“Invasive alien plants are very likely to claim the scar left by the landslide as they outcompete indigenous vegetation in terms of new growth,” says Meiring.

Given the changing climate and rainfall patterns, which increase the probability of episodic rain storms along the Garden Route, the region is likely to experience repeated damage to its road and rail infrastructure in the near future.

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

Photo: Landslide scar in Kaaimans gorge

Caption: Collapse of indigenous forest poses a further potential threat of landslides


19 October 2023 Media Release: Celebrating conservation and bio- diversity in the Garden Route vital to its future

Media Release: Celebrating conservation and bio- diversity in the Garden Route vital to its future

For Immediate Release
19 October 2023 

The Garden Route district is blessed with numerous conservation organisations such as SANParks and Cape Nature as well as privately managed conservancies and nature reserves. Also, government and non-government agencies and citizens, have a collective responsibility to preserve the biodiversity that remains along the coastal and inland areas, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

“Celebrating Conservation in the Garden Route” is the theme of the GREF annual key stakeholder report- back event planned for 13 December 2023 in Wilderness, and vital recognition is given to the sustained collective effort of the resourceful, positive and conservation minded communities and authorities of the Garden Route.

Following a century of farming and development of the Southern Cape, with exponential growth recorded during the past thirty years and with much more projected as a fast- growing population demands ever more infrastructure and resources, the Garden Route has lost a staggering amount of bio- diversity and natural beauty with many jokingly referring to the area as the “Concrete Route” as the developed coastal belt and N2 highway now presents an almost solid barrier between the mountains and the ocean with only islands of bio- diversity remaining where fynbos and the eco- systems it represents and sustained once flourished.

In addition, increased demand for fresh water necessitating damming, water transfers and extraction of ground water all have an impact on the health of Garden Route river systems and estuaries, which in turn impacts negatively on the ability to survive of marine and aquatic life.

Despite these challenges, conservation is not taking a back seat in the Garden Route as there is general consensus that the region will lose much of its allure as world class tourist destination and a region renowned for offering a high quality of life for its communities if natural ecosystems and bio- diversity disappears into oblivion in the face of development.

GREF is a public platform for conservation and environmental management entities in the Garden Route


02 October 2023 Media Release: Coastal degradation and flooding will require substantial funding  

Media Release: Coastal degradation and flooding will require substantial funding  

For immediate release
02 October 2023

“Degradation along the Western Cape coastline is well documented and is increasingly a cause for concern as valuable properties and infrastructure ends up either damaged or destroyed, and even lives are lost due to severe storm surges surprising the unsuspecting unable to move to higher ground and swept away by powerful waves. But what would be the long term effect of coastal degradation?”, asks Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Ironically, Marlene Laros heading up the Biodiversity and Coastal Management Division of the Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), in June 2023, did a  presentation on coastal vulnerability at the Annual GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba explaining the indicators used to determine where the future high water mark would be and how drastic the implication to land owners and authorities would be in terms of climate change and sea level rise, and the most recent climate induced disasters causing billions of Rand to mend is a stark warning that the change is real.

The Southern Cape and Garden Route economy and tourism sector is highly dependent on its coastline, scenic rivers and lakes, forests and mountains, and degradation of these assets over time can negatively affect the allure of the region as a world class destination, and planning for change is paramount.

Regional authorities, including the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and all the coastal municipalities are acutely aware of where their respective vulnerable infrastructure is in terms of exposure to storm surges and flooding, and where possible are already planning to move assets away from potential exposure, and not rebuilding where history no doubt will repeat itself.

Regular and severe flooding did hit the Western Cape badly throughout 2023, and the damage to infrastructure, agriculture and the economy at large, is substantial. Coupled with damage inflicted by storm surges and regular power outages caused by load shedding is not helping the regional economy as even the most resilient is affected one way or the other. Addressing coastal degradation requires substantial investments in mitigation and adaptation measures and may include beach nourishment, seawalls, and other engineering solutions to protect coastal areas. The long-term costs of these measures can be significant, and does not bode well for cash strapped municipalities.

Governments globally lack the funds to assist coastal communities exposed to sea level rise and the destruction of storm surges, and South Africa is certainly no exception. Fixing bridges, hard infrastructure and roads after severe flooding are extremely expensive with significant knock- on socio- economic impacts as products cannot reach markets and power and water security is compromised for prolonged periods of time.

From an environmental point of view, coastal degradation often leads to the destruction of valuable coastal habitats, including wetlands, dunes, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide essential breeding grounds and shelter for many marine species.

In summary, coastal degradation in the Western Cape, as in other coastal regions, has far-reaching and potentially devastating long-term consequences for the environment, economies, and communities. Addressing these issues typically involves a combination of strategies, including sustainable coastal management, land-use planning, climate change adaptation measures, and conservation efforts to mitigate the impacts and preserve coastal ecosystems.

Feature Image: Plettenberg Bay main beach after storm surge – coastal degradation and washed-away beaches caused by the 16 September 2023 storm surge leaves coastal economies dependent on tourism in dire straits.

Issued: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)


4 September 2023 Media Release: Early heat waves hints at sweltering summer and increased fire risk in the Southern Cape

Media Release: Early heat waves hints at sweltering summer and increased fire risk in the Southern Cape

For Immediate Release
4 September 2023

“Weather patterns have been playing havoc globally in 2023 with extreme temperatures affecting large parts of Europe and America where record high temperatures were reached in many places and where communities were exposed to heat and drought waves which on many occasions lasted several consecutive days, limiting outdoor activities and placing demands on resources to bring relief,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum.

In Canada for example, but much like in Tenerife and Greece and elsewhere where thousands had to be evacuated, high temperatures led to completely out of control wild fires, and large parts of Alberta is still burning at this moment following the destructing of some 15 million hectares with several towns being evacuated and infrastructure destroyed, with South Africa being one of the countries sending teams of trained fire fighters to assist where they can in bring the situation under control.

Smutsville burning (Edge Community photo and satellite imagery)

The Southern Cape is just emerging from a very cold and wet winter, and the warm days experienced during August, which normally is a very cold month, did bring relief in some ways.

Unfortunate the recent high temperatures in the Southern Cape combined with strong wind is synonymous with increased risk of wild fire disasters, as the extremely unfortunate Smutsville fire at Sedgefield is a typical example of where some forty informal dwellings were destroyed in a matter of hours even with fire services on the scene.

Hot and dry winds are merciless in the way it dries out vegetation of moisture in very short time and all it requires is a reckless spark for a wild fire to erupt and burn out of control within an hour if not contained at the source as soon as possible, hence the term “golden hour” used by fire fighters stressing the importance of rapid response when dealing with wild fire and the urgency to not allow a fire to open up an indefendable fire line as experienced recently in the Free State and of course the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay fires.

Whilst climate cycles such as El Nina and El Nino are difficult to predict accurately in terms of their impact, it can safely be said that the former is associated with wet seasons and the latter with dry spells with high temperatures, which would indicate that the Southern Cape is due for a dry hot summer, although the climate in the region is still in transition as El Nino has not yet firmed up to full effect.

What we do know from previous experience in the Southern Cape is that we should rather err on the side of caution and focus on reducing water use, and landowners should do their utmost to ensure that their fire breaks and fire preparedness protocols and measures are in place, knowing that after an extremely wet winter biomass regrowth will be aggressive and encroach on home steads and infrastructure.

Featured Image Caption: Some 40 informal houses and structure were destroyed by an out- of control fire during hot and windy conditions/ satellite imagery indicates American and African areas affected by above average heat.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for regional conservation and environmental management entities, and a think tank for climate change.

18 July 2023 Media Release: Global North’s scorching heat waves foreshadow RSA’s 2024 climate outlook

Media Release: 18 July 2023 Media Release: Global North’s scorching heat waves foreshadow RSA’s 2024 climate outlook

For Immediate Release
18 July 2023

Heat waves in the Global North are a sign of what lies ahead for RSA in 2024, but by supporting local efforts such as the Mandela Day Tree Planting Initiative citizens can make a difference. The theme for Mandela Day 23 is “The legacy lives on through you: Climate, Food and Solidarity.”

“As the Southern Cape is receiving generous- rainfall the wet weather cycle associated with the El Nina weather pattern is about to make way for the dry El Nino pattern over Southern Africa later this year.” Says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Europe is already experiencing sustained extreme hot weather north of forty degrees Celsius on an everyday basis with high numbers of people succumbing to the relentless heat. The Americas is no exception, with enormous cities such as Monte Video in Uruguay literally running out of resources as surface water evaporates faster than replenishment can take place and large storage dams and reservoirs and normally reliable water sources run dry.

As the northern hemisphere summer heat and accompanying warm winds dry out vegetation all it takes to ignite a wildfire disaster is a spark, and out-of-control wildfires is currently raging simultaneously in Canada, the USA and Europe with literally millions of hectares burning to ash with extensive environmental and infrastructural damage.

Already, European tourist destinations are reporting a significant drop in summertime figures with those seeking to escape the severe heat opting to visit less affected countries such as Ireland.

South Africa is currently experiencing the tail end of the wet El Nina weather phenomena and has received very high rainfall figures and even significant snowfall countrywide with some of the most damaging floods experienced in decades in the Western Cape causing millions of Rand losses in harvests, damage to agricultural land as well as hard infrastructure such as electricity, roads and bridges. High rainfall figures imply positive monetary results for agricultural production and with storage dams filled to the brim is good news for the country as a whole, knowing full well that conditions are about to change and that if predictions hold true, then RSA will soon enough experience drier years as of 2024.

A warming planet resulting in a fast-changing climate and changes in rainfall patterns and their intensity is now beyond human control, and adaptation, planning, new technology and risk mitigation hold the key to surviving the “new normal.”

South Africa is seen by some as notoriously self-destructive as far as resource management is concerned, and serious damage to sparse water sources due to a complete lack of capacity, management skills, political indifference and incompetence is present at all levels of government.

Non- management of sewage effluent, crumbling and leaking fresh water infrastructure and non- constant electricity supply and a risky grid seemingly on the very edge of collapse make for the perfect storm, hampering economic growth and stoking the fires of social stress, deprivation and disease.

The question begs as to the way forward knowing full well that the set targets for the planet to avoid much worse changes to the world climate than those correlating with the currently predicted curve, rising sea levels, drought and climate-related disasters causing untold harm to humanity and ecosystems collapse are seemingly not achievable.

Western countries with capable economies are very well aware of what is lying ahead for humanity if they do not act meaningfully, hence their willingness to avail vast amounts of money towards green energy and efforts to mitigate the effects of a changing climate, but politics globally remains firmly in the way of a universal approach and implementation of interventions. The unfortunate invasion of Ukraine by Russia continues to avert attention and resources away from addressing climate change issues, and the world needs solidarity and peace in going forward towards a sustainable future.

The basic act of planting a tree in the Garden Route in celebration of Mandela Day is a true individual action towards addressing climate change.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum is a public platform for climate change and environmental management think tank.

Feature image: Tree-planting is the proposed action for citizens to take on Mandela Day. Image: Shutterstock


Die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum (GREF) voorspel ‘n verskuiwing van nat El Niña- na droë El Niño-weerpatrone in Suider-Afrika, wat kommer wek oor RSA se klimaatvooruitsigte in 2024. Europa en die Amerikas staar reeds uiterste hitte, watertekorte en verwoestende veldbrande in die gesig. In reaksie hierop kan die ondersteuning van plaaslike inisiatiewe soos die Mandeladag-boomplanting ‘n verskil maak. Ten spyte van hulpbronwanbestuur in RSA, is aanpassing by ‘n veranderende klimaat deur individuele aksies, soos boomplant, van kardinale belang. Solidariteit en globale optrede is nodig om die uitdagings wat voorlê die hoof te bied.

GREF is toegewy aan klimaatsverandering en omgewingsbestuur.


26 June 2023 Media Release: In order for communities to survive climate change, it’s back to the basics for government

Media Release: In order for communities to survive climate change, it’s back to the basics for Government

For Immediate Release
26 June 2023

“The still rising Cholera death toll in Gauteng and elsewhere in the interior should serve as a rude awakening for Local Governments as well as the communities they serve. In order for all to enjoy essential necessities such as clean running water and health, we need to refocus our attention on better managing our natural resources and fixing and maintaining the basics before we even consider anything else”, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) and Councillor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) on the eve of the Annual Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba at the Nelson Mandela University.

Whilst the impact of a changing climate and rainfall patterns is complicated and threatens drought and hardship for the unprepared, the management of our natural resources is not difficult at all if the collective, and especially Local Governments, apply their minds, resources, and efforts. As an example, raw sewerage spewing from moribund waste water works countrywide has changed the river ecology and water quality of the Vaal and Olifants and almost all other river systems and estuaries in South Africa to levels that will be difficult to recover from. This has significant consequences for the quality of life of our citizens and South Africa’s food security.

A government can rightly be judged by the way it takes care of its precious natural resources, and water is by far the most important. The management of sewerage water is not a sexy subject, but by ignoring the functioning and maintenance of sewerage treatment plants at local municipalities they allowed the first domino to fall towards excessive misery and deprivation for communities already suffering from economic hardship and poverty.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and unfortunate disasters such as the Cholera outbreak will force authorities back to managing the basics. Similarly, the multimillion-Rand fine recently imposed on the Standerton Municipality by the Blue Scorpions for allowing raw sewerage to flow into the Vaal River may well be a turning point in an otherwise downward spiral.

Another promising example of potential environmental prosperity is the billions of Rand being made available by the Western world to assist South Africa in its transition to clean energy presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for South Africa to become a global leader in environmental management and at the same time allowing the country to prepare for what the changing climate will be throwing at us.


Feature image: Little hope the Vaal River’s sewage pollution crisis will end any time soon (Picture: Nneka Nwogwugwu).

Editor’s note: The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a Climate Change think- tank and public platform for environmental managers and conservation entities in the Southern Cape.


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.


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

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.