Some 30,000ha to be cleared of invasives on Agulhas Plain
The second year of invasive alien clearing on private land across the Agulhas Plain is now underway. The ABI Alien Clearing Project will aim to clear more than 30,000 hectares of land during the year. Through the project, around 200 people will receive employment.
The project’s clearing activities are being funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs, through its Land User Incentive Scheme. Partners in the ABI Alien Clearing Project are providing co-funding to the project, as they assist in implementing the clearing activities.
In the previous year alone, approximately 350 jobs were created. More than 25,000 hectares were also cleared on 98 properties across the Plain. These properties form part of land user groups such as conservancies, farmers’ associations and the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area. These groups are playing the lead part in rolling out and overseeing the invasive alien clearing.
According to the ABI Alien Clearing Project Coordinator, Roger Bailey, at an ABI Alien Clearing Project stakeholder meeting held in June, the project has enabled a long-term invasive alien clearing strategy to be identified for much of the Agulhas Plain. “Around half of the Plain’s 260,000 hectares are part of the land user groups involved in the project.” The strategy, if supported beyond the initial three years in which funding has been secured, would provide a strong platform to bring invasive aliens in the area under some control.
Land users at the meeting also highlighted the importance of ongoing invasive alien clearing activities, to ensure the R18-million investment made by the Department of Environmental Affairs over the three years is not lost. Invasive species have been highlighted as one of the greatest threats to the Agulhas Plain – itself a global biodiversity hotspot.
Bailey also highlighted some developments under the ABI Alien Clearing Project. The project has allowed champions across the landscape to be identified, who are now playing an important role in representing land owners to work with other stakeholders involved in alien clearing. It has also introduced a system in which non-governmental organisations (like ABI, coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust) are coordinating and serving as a bridge between parties.
The ABI Alien Clearing Project has sought to reduce the administrative requirements often associated with Working for Water projects – while still maintaining all necessary information to ensure accurate, efficient and transparent operations. However, Bailey noted that because of the demands on the time and capacity of land users, many running their own businesses on the land, new streamlined ways of operating need to be found.
He said ABI’s involvement in the project allowed the association to bring about landscape-level conservation and to support good land management practices. The project also sought to continue to seek practical models for invasive alien control that would suit all parties involved.