Kenton Eco Estate rangers have recently embarked on a programme to eradicate invasive plant species which currently inhabit the estate.

Although most of our estates indigenous thicket is unaffected, there are certain areas that have been identified where intervention is required in order to prevent further spread. Village 4 has several large clumps of prickly pear and small areas of pine trees which will be targeted first.  Some of the Pine trees will be stumped and delivered to homeowners residing on the estate to be used as Christmas trees, this was quite popular last year.

kenton eco estate prickly pear 

Thistle is also being targeted and is currently being removed on a regular basis. Thistle is an ongoing battle throughout most areas of the estate where original soil was disturbed during the development phase, these weeds are presently only being removed by hand during certain times of the year in order to avoid disturbing the seed pods and causing further spread. The use of weedkiller is not an option due to the sensitivity of the estate and it’s wildlife. We will however investigate the possible use of certain products that are Eco friendly.

I recently came accross a report that i thought was very interesting.

Invasive alien plants now infest 20-million hectares of South Africa – an area twice as large as previously estimated. The shock finding comes from an Agricultural Research Council (ARC) report commissioned by Water Affairs.

“The previous figure was 10 million hectares. We knew this was an under-estimate, but we didn’t think it was this big. It’s come as quite a shock,” the department’s natural resource management programme operations head, Christo Marais, told Sapa.

The ARC had briefed the department on the new estimate at a Working for Water (WfW) implementation meeting earlier this month.

Marais said it had long been obvious there was an under-estimation of the scale of the problem, particularly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Invasive alien vegetation, including various species of wattle, pine, poplar, weeping willow, gum trees, hakea and prickly pear, among others, pose a serious threat to South Africa’s water supply, as well as the country’s agricultural potential and biodiversity.

If the 20-million hectares of alien invasive vegetation across the country could be condensed into a single area, it would form a dense, impenetrable thicket about twice the size of the Kruger National Park.

Marais said that 15 years ago, government had established WfW to  tackle the problem of invasive aliens, while at the same time provide skills training and employment for thousands of poor, jobless citizens, particularly in rural areas.

In the current financial year, the project had been allocated “a more than R635 million budget”.

Asked how long it would take to clear 20-million hectares of alien vegetation, and what this would cost, Marais said a “conservative” estimate was R34 billion over the next 25 years.

Left untouched, the alien vegetation would spread at an average rate of one percent a year, threatening water and food security.

According to the ARC report, over 600 000 hectares (condensed area) of the Eastern Cape are infested with black, green and silver  wattles, as are more than 300 000 hectares in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Eastern Cape has also lost over 200 000 hectares to prickly pear, and the same area again to invasive Australian gums.

On a national scale, black, green and silver wattles have taken over more than 1.6-million hectares of South Africa; gums occupy 1.4-million hectares; and a million hectares are under invasive pines and poplars (500 000 hectares each).

Other significant alien invasives listed in the report include lantana, syringa, queen of the night cactus, agave, guava, Spanish reed and sesbania.

Land owners also needed to take responsibility for invasive plants on their properties.