Conserving water through invasive plant clearing: A Kogelberg project

Aug 12, 2022 | Activities

Day Zero – the day Cape Town was set to run out of water – may be a distant memory for many. But in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (KBR), we work to help prevent this from happening, by focusing on invasive alien plant clearing.

Now the KBR has teamed up with the Groenland Water User’s Association (GWUA), to launch a project to clear invasive alien plants in the Hangklip Conservancy. The project is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Riverbanks, mountain catchments and natural springs that are overrun by these invasive plants will be prioritised.

JOBS CREATED

The project will also create work for 12 people – a local contractor, Ryno Seegals from Kleinmond and his team of 11 people, until March 2023.

 

The City of Cape Town’s water supply is dependent on a number of catchment areas, including catchment areas in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. At the height of the drought in 2018, the GWUA released water from local farmers to Cape Town, which helped to push back Day Zero for Capetonians.

The need to conserve water

According to Corlie Hugo, Coordinator of the KBR, invasive alien plants are a major threat in the area. “After the drought, the Western Cape government and conservation bodies once again highlighted the importance of removing these plants. For us, the most vital areas to clear are our mountain fynbos catchment areas, as well as the estuaries and wetlands. This helps to conserve water and improve the ecological functioning of the key catchments.”  

The GWUA is an important partner of the KBR and runs a number of alien-clearing projects in the Elgin Valley. In this instance, the KBR will implement the project, with support from the GWUA. 

The community takes the lead

Corlie says, “This is community-driven – with the community identifying the need to clear invasive plants, based on their direct impact on our environment, the loss of rare species, the higher fire intensity, soil erosion and the loss of catchment runoff. As residents of the KBR, we have an interest in a healthy environment and in locally led conservation. In other words, this is about local people not only identifying the challenges, but also providing the solutions.”

Top left: Alien clearing teams. Image: Corlie Hugo. Top right: Hangklip Conservancy. Image: LoveGreen Communications. Middle left: Alien Clearing activity. Image: LoveGreen Communications. Middle right: Dense Australian myrtle stands to be cleared. Image: Corlie Hugo. Bottom: Follow up clearing of Rooikrans. Image: Corlie Hugo.

She says the Hangklip Conservancy especially has shown their commitment towards invasive alien clearing in the past. “This conservancy has identified the area that will be cleared as an ‘invasive alien hotspot’ and has given considerable attention to it in the past few years. That’s why as the KBR we’re thrilled to partner with this conservancy and support this vital project.”

The KBR covers an area of more than 100 000 hectares from the mountains above Gordon’s Bay, to just north of Hermanus. It stretches inland to encompass Botriver and Grabouw. It also includes the Hangklip Conservancy, in and around the town of Pringle Bay. The region was registered as a biosphere reserve in 1998, given that it includes the richest protected area in the Cape Floral Kingdom, with incredible floral diversity here. The KBR is the oldest biosphere reserve in South Africa.

Images: Corlie Hugo and LoveGreen Communications

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