South African Cactus Working Group
Who are we?
The South Africa Cactus Working Group was jointly initiated by SANBI and the CIB in 2013 by a group of researchers and managers concerned about the impacts of invasive alien cactus in the country. The group is currently facilitated by the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) of Rhodes University.
Our aims are to:
- Develop a national cactus management strategy
- Co-ordinate work on cactus on a national scale
- Assess the risks and management feasibility of cacti
- Ensure best practice in control
- Improve communication between relevant institutions, government departments and stakeholders
Why? ( focus species / area )
Alien invasive cactus species are some of the most problematic of all alien plants in South Africa. Every species of cactus, besides the mistletoe cactus Rhipsalis baccifera, are alien to Africa, and were brought from the America’s as plants for horticulture or agriculture. Many of the species that were brought to Africa have become serious pests, and South Africa is one of the countries that has been most heavily impacted.
Invasive alien cacti become overabundant and form dense spiny thickets. This degrades the value of land for grazing, makes large tracts of land inaccessible to livestock and wildlife, and reduces access to water sources and shade. The spines are injurious to livestock and wildlife, and are particularly problematic as pollutants of wool. Cactus plants also displace indigenous plants and disrupt ecological functioning. Management of alien and invasive cactus species is therefore required.
The South African Cactus Working Group works on all aspects of cactus invasions and is a platform for those working on different aspects of cactus control to share their research and experience. New species to the country are reported, early detection and rapid response is promoted for recent introductions, and biological control is promoted for the control of widespread species.
The group has commented on the SANBI Risk Analyses for cactus species included in NEM:BA, keeps the NEM:BA regulations up to date with changes to the status of cactus species or taxonomic changes, and provides comments on issues related to cactus invasions to government when appropriate.
Bi-annual meetings are held. These meetings have been virtual recently, but hopefully at least one per year will be held at the SANBI National Botanical Gardens in future.
Get in contact:
Chair: Prof Iain Paterson, Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University Email: I.Paterson@ru.ac.za
Secretary: Kim Weaver, Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University Email: K.Weaver@ru.ac.za
Get in contact: