New legislation for alien invasive plants

Toti Conservancy’s Gill van Wyk speaks on new legislation regarding alien invasive plants. Photos: Jef d'Engle
Toti Conservancy’s Gill van Wyk speaks on new legislation regarding alien invasive plants. Photos: Jef d'Engle

TOTI Conservancy hosted a public meeting on the new legislation regarding alien invasive plants at the library hall last Monday evening.

“Alien invasive plants are destructive pollutants because they interfere with the natural environment. They absorb huge amounts of water, and make the environment unfriendly to indigenous species. They are difficult to eradicate and grow back extremely quickly. Removing and permanently eradicating them is a complicated process," Gill van Wyk, indigenous plant expert and botanical artist, said.

Several examples of alien plants were on display and Van Wyk gave tips on how to eradicate invasive plants.

“Alien invasive plants have gradually appeared in most gardens, but they are not indigenous, and create tremendous environmental challenges. Residents need to be more selective about what is planted in their garden.

“The latest government legislation requires that property owners and purchasers be informed and aware of any alien plants in their gardens. Heavy fines will be imposed on owners for not eradicating alien invasive species on their properties, and we urge residents to become more aware of the dangers of invasive plants and the legal implications of not eradicating them," she said.

Van Wyk said alien invader species are not restricted to plants - fish, birds and insects are also invaders. They spread so fast they threaten our rich biodiversity, destroying indigenous fauna and flora.
Invasive alien plants endanger our economy and riparian areas, the natural habitats that surround rivers. These species don't form the same level of protection for the river as they kill indigenous plants and form a monoculture. Without biodiversity, a totally foreign cycle occurs in the riparian environment.

There are almost 400 invasive plants, and they are classified into four categories. According to new legislation, permits will be required for almost all of them. Some invaders are poisonous to livestock, and some to humans, but the biggest problem is the monocultures that are formed by invasive species. Monocultures only occur with alien plants, and indigenous plants tend to retreat away from the alien invaders.

Residents, property owners and gardeners will be expected to take responsibility for the removal and eradication of invaders or be faced with legal consequences.

“Toti Conservancy encourages the planting of indigenous plants in gardens to build a healthy micro-environment. Naturally occurring plants and fauna always help to maintain a balanced environment.”
- Barbra d’Engle.

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