Remove alien vegetation effectively

2016-02-17 06:00
Photo: supplied Gill van Wyk walks along the river, marking alien plants with yellow spray paint.

Photo: supplied Gill van Wyk walks along the river, marking alien plants with yellow spray paint.

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ALIEN vegetation has become an environmental problem in rivers, dams and on land in South Africa.
We have seen the Toti Conservancy group and Army Saints working hard to reduce the Pistia (water lettuce) in the Amanzimtoti and Little Amanzimtoti rivers, with the aim of getting the rivers to flow freely.

On land, someone who is determined to see the more aggressive alien vegetation eliminated and have the less aggressive aliens eliminated at best and under control at worst, is Gill van Wyk, an expert in alien plants and vegetation.
Van Wyk consults with businesses and homeowners and advises them on how to effectively remove the plants and trees so they do not regrow or reseed.

“Alien plants are rearranging our biodiversity” explains Van Wyk.
“They take up space and resources, such as water, that slower-growing indigenous plants would normally use. This makes it difficult for the latter to grow, let alone survive. Additionally, birds don’t nest in exotic or alien trees and therefore these trees offer no space for our birdlife to thrive.

“In a recent conversation with Elsa Pooley, a leading author of field guides regarding South African plants, she described the infestation of Pereskia and Litsia as a ‘national emergency' in the Amanzimtoti to Umkomaas area. She maintains these plants are a serious threat to our ecosystem and economy.”

Van Wyk regularly walks along the river near Amanzimtoti Sports Centre (ASC), marking the alien plants with yellow spray paint. This is to assist the ASC in its area 4 initiative (Hutchison Park extension) with its casual labour and volunteer programme in which plants should be removed.
“This area has a lot of alien vegetation and is a big job, but if we work systematically and remove them correctly, we will be successful,” says Van Wyk.

Caitlin Rendle, a Kingsway High (KHS) teacher who heads the Green Scorpions (KHS’s conservation group), joined Van Wyk for a walk near the old River Garden’s site and hopes that the Green Scorpions team up with Van Wyk.
“Not only will we learn about different types of indigenous and alien vegetation, but Gill also has an incredible historical and cultural knowledge of our indigenous plants” says Rendle.

To learn more about identifying and eradicating alien plants, contact Van Wyk at shackleton1@telkom sa.net or 071 403 0320.
- Supplied.

This area has a lot of alien vegetation and is a big job, but if we work systematically and remove them correctly, we will be successful

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