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 is managing two invasive alien clearing teams with funding from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s LandCare division and WWF South Africa. The teams are overseen by a local contractor from the Kleinmond community. The teams worked in the Hangklip Conservancy, and will also work with the Kleinmond Nature Conservation Society in Kleinmond and landowners at Arabella.
- 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 Nature Conservancy (TNC) and property owners. This project focuses on agricultural land that forms part of the fruit export industry. The Biosphere is providing strategic support and guidance to the GWUA on this project.
- 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, and is a member of the this fund’s Operational and Data Working Group. The Greater Cape Town Water Fund 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. The Kogelberg Biosphere is also a member of the steering committee of the Boland-Groot Winterhoek Strategic Water Source Collective.
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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Our Kogelberg Biosphere water systems are a delicate web of wetlands, rivers, dams and aquifers. These components are constantly in flux, and interact with one another in complicated ways. If the 2018 drought taught us anything, it’s that fresh and clean water
Invasive alien clearing in the Kogelberg Biosphere is gaining momentum. Currently we have two teams working for the Kogelberg Biosphere, removing invasive plants off some of our Critically Endangered vegetation.
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