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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.

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 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.

Categories

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

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).

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.

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).

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