Draft invasive alien law up for comment


Cape Town - On February 12 the government published a set of draft regulations which affect gardeners and property owners across the country. The draft regulations are related to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004), and contain lists of invasive species which require a range of control measures, including monitoring, removal and permits if they are found on your property.

The draft proposals have been issued for public comment for a period of 30 days. This means members of the public can submit comments, objections or documentation relating to any aspect of the regulations or lists.

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The wild strawberry (Duchesnea indica) is now a Category 1b listed plant. Picture: Lukas OttoThe yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) is a Category 1a invasive species. Picture: Lukas OttoThe Indian peacock, also known as peafowl (Pavo cristata), is now listed as a Category 2 invader, which means you need a permit to keep them in Cape Town. Picture: Lukas Otto

The deadline for submissions is 4pm on March 14. All submissions need to be e-mailed to [email protected] or posted to the Deputy Director-General, Environmental Programmes, Environmental Affairs, Attention: Dr Guy Preston, Private Bag X4390, Cape Town 8001. They can also be hand-delivered to the Deputy Director-General, Environmental Programmes, Environmental Affairs, Attention: Dr Guy Preston, 14 Loop Street, Cape Town.


The new draft proposals combine invasives already listed in the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983, with two new lists relating to invasive species and prohibited species. The act lists 198 invasive plant species in three categories.

The draft proposals are divided into a national list of invasive species and a prohibited alien species list. The first refers to invasive species in South Africa. The prohibited list refers to species that may not enter South Africa.

* The national list of invasive species includes: plants (381), mammals (40), birds (14), reptiles (24), amphibians (7), fresh-water fish (17), terrestrial invertebrates (23), fresh-water invertebrates (8), marine invertebrates (13) and microbial species (7). Total: 534 species.

* The prohibited alien species list includes: plants (239), mammals (18), birds (39), reptiles (14), amphibians (10), fresh water fish (110), marine fish (1), marine invertebrates (3), fresh water invertebrates (6), terrestrial invertebrates (143) and microbial species (7). Total: 590 species.



The 534 species on the national list of invasive species are classified into four categories:

* Category 1a: invasive species that may not be owned, imported into South Africa, grown, moved, sold, given as a gift or dumped in a waterway. These species need to be controlled on your property, and officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs must be allowed access to monitor or assist with control.

By far the most interesting Category 1a species is the New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa). After numerous submissions from local landscapers, the species can now be planted across Cape Town. In the latest lists, the New Zealand Christmas tree is only prohibited as a Category 1a species in the Overstrand Local Municipality District, which stretches from the eastern edge of False Bay to Cape Agulhas, and includes the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.

Other Category 1a species include the yellow water lily (Nuphar lutea), yellow flag (Iris pseudocorus), bur cactus (Opuntia salmiana), hop wattle (Acacia stricta) and kangaroo wattle (Acacia paradoxa).

* Category 1b: invasive species that may not be owned, imported into South Africa, grown, moved, sold, given as a gift or dumped in a waterway. Category 1b species are major invaders that may need government assistance to remove. All Category 1b species must be contained, and in many cases they already fall under a government-sponsored management programme.

The guttural toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis) is listed as a Category 1b species only in the Western Cape. Guttural toads already fall under a management plan developed by the City of Cape Town Invasive Species Unit (and funded by Environmental Programmes), which is being rolled out to protect the endemic western leopard toad.

Another Category 1b invasive species specially listed for the Western Cape is the devil’s beard or red valerian (Centranthus ruber), which is invading many areas in the Cape metropole, including Table Mountain National Park. Feral pigs are listed as Category 1b for the whole country, although they are known to be a huge problem in the Malmesbury and Riebeeck Kasteel area.

Among the birds listed as Category 1b are the Indian myna (Acridotheres tristis), Indian house crow (Corvus splendens), rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Eurasian starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos). Mallards are a threat to our indigenous yellow-billed ducks as a result of hybridisation, and a management programme to remove them in the Cape Town area is also on the drawing board.

If you are an aquarium fish hobbyist, note that the blue gill sunfish is listed as a Category 1b invasive alien species.

Significant concessions can be seen in the draft regulations relating to gums, jacarandas, Monterey pines and camphor trees (now Cat 3). These concessions recognise the value of the beekeeping industry, the historical importance of century-old camphor trees on wine estates, and finally, the cultural importance of Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) to Cape Town and jacarandas to Pretoria, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg.

Monterey pines are listed as Category 1b, but specimens with a diameter greater than 300mm and height of 10m (at the date of promulgation) are exempted in urban areas in the Cape Town Metro, Overberg District Council and Winelands District Council, except in riparian areas, where they remain Category 1b.

Six gum species (Eucalyptus sp) are listed as Category 1b within riparian areas, declared protected areas and within listed ecosystems identified for conservation. Trees with a diameter of more than 400mm and height of 10m are excluded in all urban areas.

While jacarandas remain Category 1b in most provinces, they are exempt from all legislation in urban areas. Jacarandas are not listed as an invasive species in the Western Cape.

* Category 2: These are invasive species that can remain in your garden, but only with a permit, which is granted under very few circumstances. Examples of Category 2 invaders include watercress (Nasturtium officinale), Burmese python (Python molurus), peacock (Pavo cristata), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis).

* Category 3: These are invasive species that can remain in your garden. However, you cannot propagate or sell these species and must control them in your garden. In riparian zones or wetlands all Category 3 plants become Category 1b plants.

Examples of Category 3 species are Celtis sinensis, Chinese maple (Acer buergerianum), camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora), century plant (Agave americana), the painted reed frog (Hyperolius marmoratus) and orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata).

* For details, contact Cape Town Invasive Species Unit at 021 712 1434, or

* Download the latest NEMBA Draft Regulations (4.6mb file) @



* Lift and divide evergreen arums if crowded. Remove old leaves and replant in moisture-retentive, composted soil to which a handful of superphosphate has been added. Once they have finished flowering, lift deciduous coloured arums and store in a cool dry place.

* The umbels of rose-coloured flowers of the March lily, Amaryllis belladonna, appear in late summer and early autumn before the leaves. This is a true bulb that resents disturbance and may not flower for several seasons after transplanting. Keep watch for lily borer.

* Edges of paths and borders can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as bricks that are stood on end, rope edging or terracotta tiles.

* Ophiopogon, also known as lily turf or mondo grass, is useful as a filler between sleeper steps and paving, and as broad ribbon edgings. O. Kyoto Dwarf is a dwarf form, and O. Nigrescens is also low-growing, with almost black foliage.

* Low-growing, clipped hedges provide a living framework for informal plantings in borders. These include Euonymus microphyllus, box (buxus), Abelia “Cardinal”, “Confetti” and “Dwarf Gnome”, Cuphea mexicana “White Wonder” and Euonymous japonicus “Microphyllus”. Duranta “Sheena’s Gold” is an all-time favourite for hedging and topiary.

* Don’t be afraid to plant boldly in groups. Repeating at regular intervals gives greater impact and helps unify the garden. While taller plants are usually grown towards the back of a border, plant some towards the front to create occasional interest. - Weekend Argus

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