Invasive alien plants not only threaten our fynbos landscapes, they also threaten our water security.
Huge invasive trees have spread all along rivers and catchments across the Western Cape, including in the Kogelberg Biosphere. These trees are thirsty and consume hundreds of litres of water each a day.
The catchments in the Kogelberg Biosphere are exceptionally important, as they provide water to the City of Cape Town. The importance of healthy-functioning ecosystems made headlines during the height of the drought in Cape Town in 2018, where the entire city faced Day Zero – the day that water ran out for Cape Town residents.
This highlighted the importance of removing thirsty alien plants from Kogelberg waterscapes. There are numerous alien clearing projects underway in the region – and the Kogelberg Biosphere implements some of the projects or plays a role in coordinating these various efforts, and provides support and advice to stakeholders regarding their invasive alien clearing projects.
Some of our invasive alien-clearing projects and partners we work with:
- The Kogelberg Biosphere runs a project with the Groenland Water User’s Association (GWUA), working with the Hangklip Conservancy, to clear invasive plants in this conservancy. This project is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Through this project, a contractor Ryno Seegals and his team from Kleinmond are receiving employment until March 2023. They’re focusing on clearing in Endangered Hangklip Sand Fynbos and Critically Endangered Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos. The dry branches are stacked and then filled with chips in long Hügelkultur heaps, a permaculture method of making garden beds.
- With the assistance of Dr Paul Clüver of Clüver Wine Estate, the Kogelberg Biosphere coordinated an alien clearing project now managed by GWUA. The funds to manage the project are donated by British retailers, coordinated by WWF South Africa. Clearing costs are covered by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s LandCare division, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and property owners. This project focuses on agricultural land that forms part of the fruit export industry. More recently the project has been able to expand into state-owned areas where funding has been supplied by SANBI. These projects are dependant on management from the Kogelberg Biosphere, by our part-time project manager and volunteers in the designated areas.
- WWF South Africa, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s LandCare division, the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association, CapeNature and The Nature Conservancy are all implementing invasive alien-clearing activities.
- The Kogelberg Biosphere is also working with the Greater Cape Town Water Fund, which is funded by The Nature Conservancy (an American non-profit organisation). This fund is bringing partners together around the common goal of restoring the surface water and aquifer catchments which supply Cape Town’s water.
Boreholes in the Kogelberg
During the height of the drought, the City of Cape Town launched emergency steps to source additional water, including drilling boreholes in and around Cape Town. Very little is known about the impacts of this drilling on underground water sources, as there’s little to no monitoring taking place currently.
While the drought is now no longer an immediate threat, drilling continues. The Kogelberg Biosphere is now working with relevant stakeholders to find ways of monitoring the impacts of this on the environment before it’s too late. It’s essential that drilling is done in a sustainable manner and that alternatives are also considered to groundwater abstraction. This is an ongoing project which our Directors are closely involved in.
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Finding a snake in your garden shouldn’t necessarily result in a state of fear. In fact, given that we live in a biosphere, there’s a good chance that you could meet some of our cold-blooded brethren from time to time.
The project started in February, when the participants got their first theoretical lessons, to understand the Source-to-Sea concept. The goal was to show how interconnected …
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