For years I’ve been advocating the eradication of Invasive Alien Species. With the recent drought it became very evident what the effect of these plants have on our indigenous flora. Where areas are invaded, indigenous species are wilting and dying off, whilst the invader species in the same vicinity are thriving, robbing natural flora from the little moisture there is in the soil.
The article below appeared in today’s KnysnaPlet Herald highlighting the issue of invader plants and the responsibility of landowners. I recently met with the estate agents from Sotheby’s who are keen to learn more about the Alien Invader legislation, the responsibilities of the landowners and the implications of ignoring the legislation. Regular sessions identifying I.A.S., learning more about the categories and the implications of the law will be held to familiarise agents with the legislation. I’m greatly encouraged by their enthusiasm and the hope is that they will set an example to other Knysna Estate agencies to follow suit.
Wildfires have a devastating effect on lives, property as well as the economy. Photo: Gerhard Otto
SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS – The 50 plus wildfires fought in January 2017 and December 2016, by Eden Fire and Rescue teams in the Southern Cape, posed severe challenges – one being the availability of water.
Many dams are nearing empty, with water evaporating rapidly due to strong wind, soaring temperatures and long daylight hours.
This calls for reflection on what the future may hold in store for the Eden district.
Gerhard Otto, head of Eden district municipality disaster management, says the conditions, while fighting the wild fires, were made worse by the drought. A few extremely hot days, coupled with a gale force south-easterly, also caused havoc over December and January.
Compared to the Western Cape, the Eden district did not suffer too badly (Over 400 fires were reported in the Western Cape in December). However, the massive fires that raged through the Stillbay and Albertinia region last week, were totally out of control for extended periods.
Otto says the human factor is evident throughout. “Most of the 400 or more fires in the Western Cape were started either deliberately, or as a result of negligence by careless people.” The strain that this put on disaster management as well as fire and rescue services has to be considered alongside the risk it places on their lives on an ongoing basis. The loss of life; loss of property; loss of grazing and livestock; loss of fresh water, vegetation, wildlife and biodiversity, coupled with the risk and cost of land and aerial firefighting exacts a huge toll. There is a knock-on effect in terms of the possible loss of jobs in the agriculture and processing industry, the strain on the social well-being of communities and the effect on tourism.
In Cape Town alone it is estimated that more than 250 million litres of water were used to save lives and properties. Traditionally, the availability of fresh water – or the lack thereof – is not a core disaster management function. However, as with many other scenarios, when things go wrong, they easily escalate to disaster management level.
Otto says invasive alien plants remain a huge concern. “Despite concerted efforts by Eden DM and the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) to convince public and private landowners to reduce levels of invasive alien plants on their land, the spread thereof remains problematic. Landowners should increase their efforts to control and eradicate invasive alien plants on their land in line with the relevant legislation. Already, our government is looking at holding landowners liable if fires spread from their land as a result of invasive alien stands.
“Lastly, Eden DM would like to encourage rural landowners to join the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (FPA), as this will provide them with critical assistance in dealing with fire, integrated veld fire management as well as the preparedness for and the prevention thereof.”
In a statement, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities also stressed that alien vegetation is a major challenge to firefighters and that landowners who did not manage these aliens correctly, augmented the problem.
Article by Cobus Meiring of The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI). SCLI is a public platform for landowners and land managers with an interest in the control and eradication of invasive alien plants. SCLI is supported by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), an associated Trust of WWF South Africa – www.wwf.org.za
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