A National Status Report on Biological Invasions in South Africa: what do we need to do and what should we do?

A National Status Report on Biological Invasions in South Africa: what do we need to do and what should we do?
John R. WILSON1,2, Mirijam Gaertner2,3, David M. Richardson2, Sebataolo Rahlao1 and Brian W. van Wilgen2
1South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
2Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, 7602, South Africa
3Green Jobs Unit, Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Westlake Conservation Office, Ou Kaapse Weg, Cape Town

The impacts of biological invasions are increasing and are felt by all sectors of society in South Africa.

In some cases mitigation and control measures have been very successful in reducing undesirable impacts, but in other cases control has been ineffective or the problem has not even been recognised.

A key challenge is to develop a standardised system to monitor and report on the state of invasions. In response to this need, South Africa has committed to producing a National Status Report on Biological Invasions by October 2017 and thereafter every three years.  In preparation for the first report we are editing a special issue of the journal African Biodiversity and Conservation linked to the 43rd Annual Research Symposium on the Management of Biological Invasions.

There are about thirty papers planned as part of the special issue covering a range of issues from the threats from fungi to management on Marion.  We discuss how the papers will contribute to the report in terms of developing species lists, collating data on distributions, and assessing the effectiveness of interventions.  In also focus on how they contribute from species-based, area-based and pathway-based perspectives. 

Finally we stress that the report is simply a starting point.  For it to be of value, subsequent reports need to build on each other in a way that is useful for policy and management.