Shifting perspectives - alternative management approaches for controlling the spread of silver wattle in communal landscapes
Nicky McLeod, Sissie Matela, Gerbrand Nel, Sinegugu Zukulu, Wiseman Madlingozi, Nompendulo Mgwali, Bridget Munyantore
Environmental & Rural Solutions (ERS); Conservation SA (CSA) under UCPP network
Invasive silver wattle spread, and regrowth due to inadequate follow up, has outstripped Working for Water’s (WfW) commendable efforts to reduce infestation countrywide. The WfW wage-incentive alien plant clearing programme has the demonstrated benefits of job creation and tackling infested hectares fairly cost effectively. However, the programme is based on short term externally managed and funded interventions which, when they cease, can leave cleared areas vulnerable to re-infestation and beneficiaries with debt burdens. In an effort to overcome the huge challenges posed by invader regrowth and hiatuses in funding flow, this presentation poses alternative approaches for sustainably tackling alien spread in communal landscapes being explored by civil society groups in the upper Umzimvubu catchment. This involves alternative innovative package of incentives for voluntary groups, who are provided with support to manage hectares along the periphery of wattle jungle where spread threatens grassland, homesteads and arable fields. The target areas are identified for both their location as a buffer to control further spread, as well as accessibility for conversion to productive sites to prevent re-infestation. It aims to turn liabilities (alien-plant invaded land) into assets: productive sites generating returns though better husbandry and conservation agriculture activities for the groups/households managing that land, while simultaneously providing a buffer zone to control further alien spread. This presentation outlines potential control techniques as well as incentives, to find ways to ensure that benefits derived from investments made in alien plant clearing are more sustainable and longer lived. It will introduce these concepts, and the associated learnings, successes and dead-ends to date.