KNYSNA NEWS – The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) recently conducted a workshop in Buffalo Bay, aimed at highlighting the plight of Garden Route river systems and the importance of responsible land management practices.
According to a press release issued by SCLI, the Garden Route is a hothouse for invasive alien plants, and the region is in a seemingly perpetual struggle to eradicate and control the prevalence and aggressive spread of invasive alien plants that have a profoundly negative effect on the extremely vulnerable Garden Route environment and biodiversity.
Cobus Meiring of the SCLI says that, since the 2017 and 2018 wildfire disasters that ripped through the Garden Route, landowners and land managers have considerably upped their efforts to deal with invasive alien plants on their land.
He says there has been a marked increase in efforts to address invasive alien biomass in the Garden Route with more resources and better equipment dedicated towards this goal. Equipment focusing on "green energy", such as battery-powered chain saws, are also becoming more available on the market.
"Garden Route landowners are, generally speaking, enthusiastic in their land management approach and enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings in an environment free of invasive alien plants, where endangered fynbos can survive and thrive, and along with it all associated indigenous biodiversity," he says.
At the recent SCLI Landowner and Contractor Workshop, attendees learned of advanced software programmes that work through camera systems fitted on drones, that can differentiate between indigenous and invasive alien plants extremely accurately. This can assist land managers tremendously in their planning and budgeting when they calculate the extent of work needed to address invasive plants on their land, and in effectively tracking and auditing their progress.
"Advances in drone technology over recent years made it now possible for drones to easily carry up to thirty litres of herbicide and cover large areas affected by all sizes of invasive alien plants, including normally inaccessible terrain, in a very short time span and can do so cost-effectively with great accuracy and negligible collateral impact on indigenous growth that are often intermingled with invasive alien plants," says Meiring.
The workshop was concluded with a field visit to the Goukamma Nature Reserve to look at land that is now totally overgrown by invasive alien plants following the 2017 wildfire disaster.
Due to Covid-19 issues with labour and the Goukamma floodplain making access impossible, this could not be addressed earlier.
Concludes Meiring: "SCLI, along with private landowners and regional environmental entities such as SANParks and CapeNature, is in the process of setting the scene for a Garden Route Critical Rivers Initiative, aimed at the better management of river systems in order to restore and enlarge the regional conservation footprint, and to achieve rewilding objectives in the face of a changing climate."
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