Preventing the introduction of invasive species is the first line of defence against invasions. Even the best prevention efforts will not stop all invasive species being introduced.
The second line of defence is early detection and rapid response (EDRR). EDRR efforts increase the likelihood that invasions will be addressed successfully while populations are still localised and population levels are not beyond that which can be contained and possibly eradicated. Once populations are widely established costly operations are implemented to contain and/or control such populations to mitigate negative impacts. The costs associated with EDRR efforts are less than those of long-term invasive species management programmes.
The Cape Peninsula Invasive Plant EDRR programme
The national EDRR programme is implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which funds the Cape Peninsula EDRR programme for invasive plants. A voluntary network of ‘spotters and experts’, covering the boundaries of the Peninsula, report new and emerging plant species and their locality to the EDRR project manager for positive identification. If the species turn out to be one of the target plant species, the rapid response team is deployed to remove the plants. The public can help manage invasive species by joining the Spotter Network at www.capetowninvasives.co.za.
The Invasive Plant EDRR programme aims to:
- Locate new and emerging invasive alien plant species in the Cape Peninsula;
- Strengthen and support an early detection network for the Peninsula, this comprises ‘spotters’ and ‘experts’ capable of identifying and reporting the appearance of new and emerging invasive plants before they can become established and control becomes less feasible and more costly; and
- Remove target plant species by means of integrated control methods.
What is an invasive plant?
Not all invasive plants are alien and not all alien plants are invasive. Plants are invasive when they produce copious offspring that spread at rapid rates and swiftly dominate landscapes. Invasive plants are introduced intentionally or by accident to areas where they did not occur before and spread from human settings into natural areas with negative effects to our economy, environment, agriculture or health. Free from natural enemies they reproduce rapidly and spread aggressively, taking over natural areas and altering biological communities.
Why should we be concerned?
Invasive alien plants are implicated in the extinction of 58 plant species in the Cape Floristic Region and endangerment of 3 435 other species in South Africa. 750 fynbos plant species currently face extinction because of alien plant species - Source: Invasive Alien Species in Southern Africa - National Reports & Directory of Resources [PDF 1.3 MB].
It is well known and documented that the Cape Peninsula is one of the world's ‘hottest of hot spots’ of plant diversity, with its many endemic species. The Cape Peninsula hosts more than 2 500 plant species and has the highest density and number of threatened plants of any metropolitan area in the world. The biggest threats facing biodiversity in the Peninsula are development, alien plant invasions and inappropriate fire regimes. Invasive plants not only displace native species, they also alter the habitat for wildlife, and impact negatively on ecosystems and food sources.
We can make a difference by preventing and controlling the spread of invasive species.
What does the law say about you and invasive alien species?
Our laws relating to invasive alien species are aimed at:
- Preventing the introduction of alien species that may become invasive;
- Managing species that have become invasive in the country; and
- Prosecuting those who contravene the legislation.
The long-term threat of invasive alien species to life and livelihoods is so great, and the potential impact so significant, that far more stringent steps are now being taken. In terms of invasive alien species, the following general conditions apply:
- It is unlawful to bring listed alien species into the country without a permit to do so.
- It is unlawful to sell categorised invasive alien species.
- It is unlawful to have categorised invasive alien species on your property.
- It is unlawful to grow categorised invasive alien plants in sensitive areas (e.g. riverine areas, wetlands).
- Land users have a legal duty to remove alien invasive plants that are a fire hazard in certain areas.
- The authorities may clear your land of invasive alien plants and other alien species entirely at your own cost, and at your risk.
What are listed invasive alien species?
On 3 April 2009, in Gazette No. 32090, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism published the following documents for 30 days of public comment:
- The second draft Alien and Invasive Species Regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, Act 10 of 2004 (NEMBA);
- Draft lists of categories of species exempted (section 66), prohibited alien species (section 67) and invasive species (section 70).
Listed invasive alien species fall under the following categories:
Category 1a - Invasive species requiring compulsory control. Remove and destroy. Any specimens of Category 1a listed species need to be eradicated from the environment, by law. No permits will be issued.
Category 1b - Invasive species requiring compulsory control as part of an invasive species control programme. Remove and destroy. These species are deemed to have such a high invasive potential that infestations can qualify to be placed under a government sponsored invasive species management programme. No permits will be issued.
Category 2 - Invasive species regulated by area. A demarcation permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed move, sell buy or accept as a gift any species listed as Category 2. No permits will be issued for category 2 plants to exist in riparian zones.
Category 3 - Invasive species regulated by activity. An individual permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed move, sell buy or accept as a gift any species listed as Category 3. No permits will be issued for category 3 plants to exist in riparian zones.
Alien and invasive plants are also listed and categorised in the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, Act 43 of 1983 (CARA):
Category 1 – These plants may not occur on any land or inland water surface other than in biological control reserves.
Category 2 – These plants may not occur on any land or inland water surface other than a demarcated area or a biological reserve.
Category 3 – These plants shall not occur on any land or inland water surface other than in a biological reserve.
Invasive alien plants may be a fire hazard
Every summer, the Table Mountain range is threatened by uncontrolled fires. Invasive alien plants, which add fuel to the fire and threaten the survival of indigenous vegetation, are largely to blame. Do your part to protect our heritage – remove invasive alien plants.
Species targeted for early detection and rapid response in the Cape Peninsula
A list of EDRR target and potential invasive plants will be updated periodically as new information becomes available.
Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR)
Mr Mfundo Tafeni
Tel: +27 (0)21 712 1944 /1434
Fax: +27 (0)21 712 9277
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