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VIDEO: Conservancy tackle invasive trees on Umgeni River bank

The highly invasive tree, which is common throughout Durban North, has led to rapid habitat change along the creek of the river.

THE Umgeni Estuary Conservancy (UEC) together with the Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu team recently cleared around 2 000 Litsea glutinosa trees from the north bank of the Umgeni River.

The highly invasive tree, which is common throughout Durban North, has led to rapid habitat change along the creek of the river.

According to Margaret Burger of the UEC, Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu participants removed the trees from 15cm high to the standard tree size.

“This tree is a habitat changer. It is originally from Asia. This means that over a short period of time, it can aggressively invade, leaving very little space for other species, especially understorey. Understorey is very important for animals within that habitat, as it provides food and shelter,” explained Burger. “They grow much better in areas where there is a high water table. This unfortunately means it monopolises the space and absorbs more water affecting indigenous trees.

“Litsea are widespread throughout Durban North and sadly they’ve also been found in large numbers within Durban North. Litsea has very long tap roots. Even when the seedling is 15cm high, it can be difficult to pull it out, as the plant can break off, leaving the root in the soil. The conservancy and Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu participants helped remove around 2 000 of the species along the bank.”

Burger added that birds and monkeys often eat the fruit found on Litsea trees which has helped the spread of the highly invasive species.

“The only way to get rid of this invasive species is to cut it to stump level, near the ground and paint it with herbicide. Ring-barking does not always work. The good news is there are indigenous alternatives that can be planted such as the African Dog Rose (Xylotheca Kraussiana) or the African Wild Peach (Kiggelaria Africana),” she said.

Burger urged residents to contact her should they need advice on removing Litsea on 083 630 5380 or email kzn.chair@wessalife.org.za.  


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