WfW saves SA R400bn

2012-05-03 07:47

Cape Town - The Working for Water (WfW) programme, which spearheads the fight against invasive alien plants, has saved South Africa an estimated R400bn, Environment Minister Edna Molewa said on Wednesday.

"The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has calculated that the value of water saved through the clearing of invasive alien plants... is put at R400bn," she told a media briefing at Parliament, ahead of debate on her department's budget in the National Assembly.

Responding to questions on the matter, the department's deputy director-general environmental programmes, Guy Preston, said the CSIR study had looked at alien plants that had come into the country over a long period of time, and methods that had been used to control them.

"What it's saying is that if we hadn't put in the measures to control these plants... that they would have spread and grown over that period of time... and the impact would have been at that level."

Preston said the study had not included a further figure of R56bn "in terms of potential lost grazing, agriculture food security issues and eco-system services, fire erosion and other factors."

"[The R400bn] is the value of water that, if we hadn't been doing this work, the levels of invasion that would have occurred and the impact it would have had on run-off water and yield."

Speaking later to Sapa, Preston said about 20% of South Africa's land surface was infested with alien plants.

While alien invasive plants were currently spreading faster than WfW could destroy them, he anticipated that within the next decade, with the correct bio-diversity legislation in place, the programme would "turn the corner" and start reducing the infested areas.

Read more on:    csir  |  edna molewa  |  environment  |  water

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