The impact of alien invasive plants on the environment has yet again come to the forefront, following the devastating fires across the Western Cape in areas such as Table View, Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Helderberg over the past week.
According to the Western Cape spokesperson for Environmental Affairs, Andricus van der Westhuizen, concerns have once again, been raised about the role invasive plant species have played in the rapid spread of these fires, especially in regards to the Lourensford fire which had spread to the Helderberg Nature Reserve.
According to the City, approximately 280 hectares of the reserve has been burnt, however, ecologically, they said the fire has not had a negative impact as much of the veld was mature and due for a managed ecological burn. “I will write to the Western Cape Minister of Environmental Affairs, Anton Bredell, to request details on the province’s ongoing efforts to eliminate alien invasive plant species,” said van der Westhuizen.
He added that the provincial government is running several initiatives to combat the devastating effects of invasive plant species, such as the CapeNature alien-vegetation removal programme that trains local communities to assist in identifying and managing invasive plant species.
He said the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Environmental Affairs conducted an oversight visit this week to another initiative in the Garden Route District to evaluate the progress of the Restore Garden Project, which also aims to eliminate and control alien invasive plants. “The visit revealed that progress is being made in bringing alien invasive plant species under control and that these efforts have a direct, positive impact on the environment, agriculture and local economic development.
“These plant species pose a threat to our local biodiversity and I, therefore, commend the continued proactive approach by the provincial government to eliminate these plants whilst at the same time empowering communities, spreading environmental awareness and driving economic growth at a local level.”
Picture: Friends of Helderberg Nature Reserve (Facebook)