Cape Town – A local NGO announced on Wednesday that it is set to create sustainable jobs for 90 people through the clearing of invasive alien plants behind the town of Plettenberg Bay.
The project forms part of the Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative which aims to connect an extensive area between the Western and Eastern Cape where wildlife can move freely.
“Eden to Addo will be training and employing 90 people for three years to clear 2000ha in the Keurbooms River catchment of alien species,” said project manager Pam Booth.
Booth says the project which begins at the end of this year will address livelihoods, water security, and biodiversity.
“Much needed employment opportunities will be created to clear the invading alien plant species, the river catchment area will be restored to its pristine state and the stream flow will be greatly increased,” she said.
According to CEO, Joan Berning, half the Keurbooms River catchment has been invaded by alien plants and it is projected that this infestation will increase steadily so that by 2025 the Keurbooms stream will be reduced by 95%.
The targeted area includes the mountains and hills behind Plettenberg Bay and covers a critical catchment area for the Keurbooms River upon which the town of 50 000 depends.
18 million hectare
Dr David Le Maitre, invasive ecologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), says the major invaders on the rivers in this area are Black wattle, Blackwood, Eucalypts, and Acacias (Rooikrans and Port Jackson).
According to Le Maitre the invasive trees can use large quantities of water which reduces river flows and also impedes their ability to dilute pollution entering the river.
Invasive trees can also worsen the effects of flooding in the area.
“They replace natural river trees which are generally more resistant to being dislodged by floods. This results in greater disturbance and erosion during floods, especially when shallow rooted species like wattles are uprooted,” he said.
South Africa is facing increasing threats of plant invasion and the most recent estimate is that the total invaded area is at least 18 million hectare. If they were all placed together it would occupy an area almost as large as the Kruger National Park.