ABI presents at DEA planning session
The ABI team presented the ABI Alien Clearing Project to the Department of Environmental Affairs and independent researchers at the Department’s Management, Research and Planning meeting (MAREP) in November. The three-day conference sought to develop closer ties between research planning and implementation, with much emphasis placed on invasive alien clearing.
The MAREP was held between 4-6 November in Arniston. The ABI team presented the model adopted within the ABI Alien Clearing Project, to encourage landowner involvement in alien clearing activities on the Agulhas Plain. The ABI Alien Clearing Project launched early in 2013. So far in year two, the project has cleared about 17,000 hectares, employing 241 people from the area.
Through the project, land user groups (such as conservancies) have driven the planning and implementation of the project, working closely with their landowners. The Implementation Committee also consists of key players from CapeNature, SANParks and the Overstrand Municipality, who offer support and advice where needed.
The project forms part of a new funding scheme developed by the Department, called the Land User Incentive Scheme. According to officials at the conference, the scheme is allowing the private sector to meet government half-way in terms of funding, with the Department looking forward to seeing the results from this. The ABI Alien Clearing Project has secured co-funding from land user groups and other partners estimated at approximately R2-million in the first year of operations.
Conference delegates highlighted the challenge created by invasive alien plants. According to Dr William Stafford of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), invasive plants are spreading at 10 percent per year in South Africa. As such, alien clearing projects must exceed this, in order to have any impact on invasives. It was estimated that the Department needs R3-billion a year to meet its own clearing targets.
Dr Christo Marais, Chief Director: Natural Resource Management Programmes at the Department highlighted the importance of undertaking appropriate ecological research, to better understand the impact of good land management on the quality and quantity of ecosystem services. These results should also then be translated to make economic and social sense – to further ensure better buy-in from stakeholders.
The ABI Alien Clearing Project, through support from the Table Mountain Fund (an associated Trust of WWF-South Africa), is now launching a new project to collect data and monitor the impacts of invasive alien clearing, in a cost-effective way. Current systems can be time-consuming and costly, with landowners unlikely to integrate them into their farm management plans. However, the new project will aim to pilot new monitoring models, which are accurate and scientifically robust, that can be easily used by landowners.