The world-renowned Working for Water (WfW) Programme celebrates two decades of invasive species clearing and job creation since it’s inauguration on 16 October, 2015. This celebrated programme, which has gained international recognition for its achievements in invasive species clearing, environmental conservation and job creation, was launched in 1995 in the Western Cape by the late Professor Kader Asmal, then Minister of Water Affairs.
The WfW programme is a Department of Environmental Affairs funded programme, which aims to eradicate invasive alien plants and improve water security. It has has created more than 180 000 jobs to young people, women and the physically disabled. It has trained specialist teams that can work in all terrains, such as high altitude teams, as well as water teams to deal with aquatic invaders.
Securing water resources
Invasive plants pose a direct threat not only to South Africa's biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land. They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. These plants can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses. More than this, invasive aquatic plants – such as the water hyacinth – affect agriculture, fisheries, transport, recreation and water supply.
WfW works with local communities, by providing jobs, and with national government departments such as environment, agriculture, and trade and industry. It also collaborates with provincial departments of agriculture, conservation and environment, research foundations and private companies.
Since its launch, the programme has cleared more than 1-million hectares of invasive alien plants, all the while providing jobs and training to thousands of people from the most marginalised sectors of society, of these, 52% are women.
WfW currently runs over 300 projects in all nine of South Africa's provinces. The programme is globally recognised as one of the most outstanding environmental conservation initiatives in Africa, and the world.
Invasive species are causing billions of Rands worth of damage to South Africa's economy each year. Invasive alien plants (IAPs) pose a direct threat not only to biodiversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land.
They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. IAPs can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses and invasive aquatic plants, such as water hyacinth affect agriculture, fisheries, transport, recreation and water supply. It is estimated that invasive plants cover about 10% of the country.
On 1 October, 2014, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) - Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations became law.
The AIS Regulations contain a National List of Invasive Species (559 plants and animals) which need to be regulated and controlled. These include plants (383), mammals (41), birds (24), reptiles (35), amphibians (7), fresh-water fish (15), terrestrial invertebrates (23), fresh-water invertebrates (8), marine invertebrates (16) and microbial species (7).
These species are further divided into four categories – Category 1a (newly emerging invasives requiring immediate control), Category 1b (widespread invasives which must be controlled and ideally removed from properties), Category 2 (species requiring permits) and Category 3 (species which may remain in place but further trading, propagation or planting is prohibited).
The AIS Regulations state that anyone selling their property is required to notify the purchaser in writing of the presence of invasive species on that land. By not notifying the purchaser, the seller could be held liable for future costs associated with the removal or control of these invasive species, or damage caused due to the presence of invasive species such as damage to buildings and infrastructure by fire fuelled by species such as invasive gum and pine trees.
National Invasive Species Week
The inaugural National Invasive Species Week runs from 10-17 October, 2015 hopes to publicize the 559 invasive flora and fauna species that are listed in South Africa. The week aims to highlight the importance of invasive species in relation to our economy, human health, food security, water supply and biodiversity. This event runs concurrently with National WeedBuster Week, which has been an institution in this country for two decades and celebrates the 198 invasive alien plants listed on the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Act No 43 of 1983) (CARA) which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
National Invasive Species Week aims to raise awareness and increase public understanding around invasive plants and animals. Everyone can participate by removing invasive plants from their garden or by joining a local community hack group to remove invasives from their neighbourhood.
Follow Invasive Species South Africa on Twitter: @InvasivesZA
Follow us on Facebook.
Joburg City Parks and Zoo celebrated National Invasive Species Week on Wednesday 7 October, 2015 with a high profile event in Mondeor, Johannesburg. During a one day blitz, teams from Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Working for Water (WfW) and Joburg City Parks cleared a riverine area in a suburban park removing dense thickets of wattle and bugweed. See our gallery of images taken on the day.
Do you manage a municipality, nature reserve or farm? Do you need assistance on how to develop an invasive species control plan for the area under your control. On 1 October, 2015, the Biosecurity Unit, Environmental Programmes, Department of Environmental Affairs released a guideline document which will assist custodians and managers of land to embark on a process to document, monitor, control and manage invasive species.
In the countdown to National Invasive Species Week (10-17 October, 2015), the City is asking residents to control invasive plants on their properties. This year’s fire season is only months away, and it is important that property owners work to control invasive plants now to avoid potential loss of property and livelihoods during the approaching fire season.