GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Landowners in the Garden Route have over recent years suffered tremendously as a result of a series of severe wildfire disasters which basically burnt well over 200 000 hectares to a tinder.
In a joint effort, the *Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and Southern Cape Landowners' Initiative (SCLI) launched an extensive programme aimed at assisting landowners in gathering spatial data on the extent of regrowth of invasive alien plants (IAPs) on their land, and providing technical and herbicide assistance to those landowners who indicate a willingness to eradicate and control IAPs on their land. SCLI is the implementing agent for the programme.
According to Cobus Meiring, manager of the GREF secretariat, and chairperson of SCLI, further objectives of the programme include generating opportunities for regional IAP control and clearing-contractor teams, and empowering landowners in complying with the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) regulations pertaining to the management of IAPs on private land.
In many parts of the western and northern parts of the Garden Route, the crippling drought compounded the effects of the wildfire disasters. In places south of Riversdale, which burnt back in early 2017, the environment only now starts showing signs of vegetation cover.
“As if that is not enough, the vegetation type that makes its appearance first is of the wrong kind, and more often than not consists of dense stands of IAPs, including (and there are many more) rooikrans, black wattle, blackwood, long-leaf wattle, pines of all shapes and sizes, stink bean, sesbania, bluegum and a host of less-known varieties such as pampas grass and Madeira vine,” says Meiring.
Authorities clamping down
Following the out-of-control wildfires, authorities are clamping down on landowners allowing their land to become overrun by invasive alien trees and biomass which, if not better managed and controlled, will set the scene for a repeat of the intense 2017 fires.
“However, landowners are in a difficult situation as combating IAPs can be a costly exercise, with relentless and fast regrowth patterns, requiring never-ending commitment and resources. More often than not, land affected by IAPs are on parcels of land that are not viable from a farming perspective, clustered in areas that are difficult to access, on either steep slopes or nestled in deep ravines,” explains Meiring.
“As a first step to better land management and compliance with environmental legislation, governmental officials insist that landowners develop IAP control plans. Complicating matters even further is that all landowners and estate agents have to make mention of the extent of IAPs as an addendum to a sales agreement.”
GREF will assist participating and qualifying landowners with the compilation of standardised IAP control plans and, where applicable, issue herbicide volumes in accordance.
Herbicide use not ideal, but…
Landowners in the Garden Route are serious about living in an environment that is as uncontaminated as possible, and many are against the use of herbicides.
Meiring says the safe use and application of herbicide is imperative in the rollout of the landowner assistance programme, and participating landowners will be expected to abide by health and safety regulations, and apply herbicide strictly as prescribed by the labels, depending on which type is best suited for the plants they have to treat.
Find out more
Visit their website. The GREF is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serve as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape, and strive to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.
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