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Root out alien invasive species, urges Durban North Conservancy

Jane Troughton of the conservancy said success in stopping or slowing the spread of alien invasive species starts with early detection.

LAST month, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, called for efforts to prevent the spread and introduction of new invasive species into the country.

The minister made the comments at the 3rd National Status of Biological Invasions and Their Management in South Africa, which shows that over the last decade, 32 new alien species were either illegally or accidentally introduced, a rate of approximately three introductions per year.

Groups of volunteers dedicated to slowing the spread of alien invasive species include Enviro Fixers Durban North and the Durban North Conservancy.

Jane Troughton of the conservancy said success in stopping or slowing the spread starts with early detection.

Also read: Durban North Conservancy sees increase in alien species

“Both the conservancy and Enviro Fixers are extremely concerned about the exponential increase in invasive alien plant species in Durban North. Along our roadsides, rivers and seasides we see, year on year, the advancement of alien invasive species and new species coming in. We work hard to catch plants before they flower or as they flower – before they set seed. As the old gardening adage goes: ‘One year’s seeds, seven years weeds’.

“The goal in this process cannot be eradication. This is an ongoing process that needs to be built into the maintenance budget of landowners and custodians. We know how important early detection is as we’ve seen that success at Bridgevale Park and Nature Reserve. When we started at the reserve four years ago, we mapped 30 invasive species. For the last two years, several of those species have not re-occured at all. Most we have, more or less, under control because we acted early,” she said.

Troughton also offered up possible solutions to addressing the problem of alien invasive species.

“Alien invasive plant species are not an environmental topic that generates many clicks or likes online. They are not visible like sewage pouring into our rivers because they blend into the general ‘green’ of all plants. They are not noticed like load-shedding and water-shedding because their absence (which is desirable) is not visible as most people, understandably, cannot distinguish indigenous from alien.

Also read: Durban NPO encourages citizens to adopt water-conscious practices

“So why should we care? My suggestion to the minister is to set up a Project Page on iNaturalist called ‘Invasive Alien Plant Species Reporting South Africa’ so all of us who know plants can easily upload photos of infestations which are geotagged. This will provide data on hotspots that need to be prioritised. Going forward, reports can be drawn to show species maps and whether or not the management programme is working,” she said.


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