The ABI Alien Clearing Project
Invasive alien plants have been highlighted as one of the biggest threats to the Agulhas Plain, and the broader Overberg. Studies have found they cost the Cape Floristic Region around R700-million every year. The Plain itself is 23 percent invaded by alien species - resulting in the loss of economic development (for example job creation through flower harvesting), and threatening this globally-acclaimed biodiversity hotspot.
Clearing invasive aliens is an expensive business, making it a challenge for many private land users to ensure their lands are completely free of invasive plants. A further challenge is the lack of coordination between stakeholders involved in alien clearing. As an example, a landowner who clears his land could find his property re-infested by a neighbour who is not interested in alien clearing. As it is, alien clearing resources are scarce - and we therefore cannot let alien-clearing funding go to waste in such a way.
That’s why funding secured from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in 2013 for invasive alien clearing activities on the Agulhas Plain was so important, as it allowed clearing activities to take place strategically, over a larger area. The funding came from DEA’s Land User Incentive Scheme, and amounted to R18-million over the next three years. Partners involved in the project, including land user groups and NGOs, were responsible for co-funding the project.
So, in 2013, the ABI Coordination Unit (coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust) hosted the first meeting to bring stakeholders together. This grouping decided on the project model and rollout, and from here, representatives were selected from land user groups who wished to be involved (conservancies, farmer’s associations etc), to stand on an Implementation Committee. Municipal officials, and officials from CapeNature and SANParks were also elected to stand on this committee, to provide vital input and assistance.
This committee initially met frequently, to together develop and plan the implementation of the project. Once the planning had been finalised, nine land user groups agreed that they wished to participate in the project, covering an area of approximately 100,000 hectares on the Agulhas Plain - much of this consisting of significant fauna and flora. About 100 landowners were therefore included in the project, while around 250 jobs were created for project participants. The committee also decided to focus on follow-up in the initial years of the project, and to focus on clearing natural vegetation (with agricultural lands excluded).
Currently work in the ABI Alien Clearing Project continues, with approximately 30,000 hectares cleared per year. The project works with 28 contractors, who employ their own teams. These contractors and their teams have also been vital in planning the work to be undertaken, as their experience in the first year provided essential information on the densities of areas to be cleared, and some of the practical challenges in the field.
It’s hoped that alien clearing activities will not be halted after just three years - which would threaten all the gains made in the first three years of the project. As such, the ABI Alien Clearing Project is looking at ways to support clearing activities here for the next 20 years. And those partnerships built up, with land user groups, landowners, contractors, their teams, other government partners involved, and vital donors such as DEA, the Drakenstein Trust and Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, will prove essential in the long run.
For more information, contact Roger Bailey: Tel. 028 388 0713, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tackling the Invasives
Clearing methods depend on the invasive alien species. Here is a breakdown of some of themost successful clearingmethods on some of themost common invasive alien plants found in the Overberg.
A full list of invasive alien plants
Seedlings: These can be hand-pulled, or plants up to a metre tall can be treated with foliar spray. Up to 2m tall plants can be treated with spot spray.
Mature trees: Trees can be felled, but stumps smaller than 20cm must be treated with herbicide. Frilling will also work, as trees will die if cuts are made into the cambium. Apply herbicide. Ringbark mature trees by removing a 10cm wide strip near the base of the trunk, and apply herbicide.
Burning: Dense stands can be burnt, but note that fire stimulates the seed bank, so follow-up is essential.
Five new projects receive ABI support. The projects work to contribute to biodiversity conservation & environmental education in the Overberg.
ABI Partners met on 26 November 2015. "The current weather forecasts and historic trends show that the Overberg is likely to face a tough fire season" Learn More
The ABI Alien Clearing Project teams gave our fabulous guests from the Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference a show... Learn More
ABI Alien Clearing team members from the Napier Mountain Conservancy attended a Field Safety & Snake Awareness day. Learn More
ABI held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, 24 June – with fire and invasive alien plants featuring strongly on the agenda.
The Agulhas Plain has been selected as a pilot site to study how fire- and invasive alien management activities are ...
New skills for ABI Alien Clearing Project contractors, following UIF info session. Our thanks to the Department of labour officials...
Five new projects have been selected to receive grants through the ABI Small Grants Facility... Learn More
How landowners can finance sustainable land management ... Learn More
ABI Partners met in April - to inform and update each other on conservation and other initiatives taking place across the Overberg. Learn More
The need to balance coastal conservation with development along the Overberg's coastline is being assessed. Invitation to attend a series of public meetings. Learn More
Land users in the Overberg are set to benefit from new extension capacity. Jan Coetzee has been appointed as Better Barley... Learn More
Much of the Overberg has been identified as an area of national strategic importance for wind and solar energy development...
Municipal officials and theme leaders within the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative have been invited to put forward potential conservation ... Learn More
Unusual weather during the past summer period is now having an affect on invasive alien clearing programmes. Due to strong downpours in ... Learn More
Team chosen to consolidate Overberg FPAs as part of the Global Environment Facility-funded FynbosFire Project.
Alien clearers part of the ABI Alien Clearing Project received training in how to handle and spray herbicide onto invasive plants. Learn More
The draft management plan for the De Mond Nature Reserve Complex is available for comment... Learn More