KNYSNA NEWS - Two years after the Garden Route suffered one of its worst natural disasters in recorded history, landowners are being urged to take responsibility by the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).
"Knysna and surrounds burnt to the ground in June 2017 and two years down the line rural landowners still have to cope with what nature has bestowed upon them," said Cobus Meiring of the SCLI. "Besides the loss of kilometres of expensive fences, underground and above-the-ground irrigation systems, and the destruction of crops and trees by the out-of-control wildfire, almost all landowners in the burn scar are confronted with aggressive invasive alien plant regrowth, which they simply cannot ignore."
According to Meiring, the Knysna landowners are not alone – as many times more hectares of land were destroyed by wildfire all the way from Vermaaklikheid, Still Bay and either side of the Outeniqua Mountains in 2018.
Meiring emphasises the conservation value of an environment free of invasive alien plants. As much as the suppression of invasive alien plant regrowth is critical if communities are to prevent a repeat of the 2017 fire disaster, so is recognising the conservation value of cultivating a high-quality environment free of invasive alien plants.
As part of the SCLI Cape Floristic Corridor Revival and Training Programme, funded by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), the Southern Cape landowners Initiative is offering to compile invasive alien plant control plans for private landowners along the Knysna, Goukamma, Touw, Kaaimans and Great Brak rivers. The plans are compiled according to a standard that is acceptable to the department of environmental affairs, Meiring says.
The objective of these plans, he says, are twofold: to satisfy departmental officials that landowners are compliant in dealing with and managing invasive alien plants on their land; but perhaps more importantly, to communicate to landowners along these river systems that they own the last of what remains of very precious conservation land.
Landowners who are interested in participating in the SCLI initiative can visit www.scli.org.za, contact Meiring directly on 083 626 7619 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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