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Significantly more funding needed to deal with alien vegetation

Visual simulations of a well pad located in the Central Karoo landscape. Picture: SUPPLIED

Visual simulations of a well pad located in the Central Karoo landscape. Picture: SUPPLIED

Published Jun 10, 2022

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Cape Town - The provincial Department of Agriculture made just more than R6 million available to deal with alien vegetation in the Central Karoo over the past three years, but the department has only been able to service a limited portion of the area as more funding was needed from national government.

DA constituency head for Beaufort West Deidré Baartman questioned Agriculture MEC Anton Bredell on the status of the spread of invasive alien vegetation in the Central Karoo – particularly the monetary and non-monetary impact of invasive alien vegetation and its spread.

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“The spreading of alien invasive plants would mean two things. Apart from the natural consequence being that more resources would need to be allocated to eradicating this plant species, the damage to the topsoil and groundwater levels would be adverse.

“In an area that already is drought-stricken, the prevalence of invasive plants would have a negative impact on the local economy as well,” Baartman said.

Bredell said that in order to make a significant impact on the spreading of alien invasive plants the required funding and application of labour would need to be increased five-fold.

“Based on studies in the Karoo, with vegetation largely the same as might be expected in the Central Karoo District, the average estimated loss in ecosystem services due to degradation is approximately R1 600 per hectare per year,” Bredell said.

Bredell said should the figure of R1 600 per hectare be used and multiplied by only 5% for the total area of the Central Karoo (3 885 400ha), then its loss of ecosystem services cost over R310 million a year, increasing each year.

“Whether soil deteriorates due to a loss of surface cover or due to invaders, it can be expected that the loss of ecosystem services will be much the same. The ecosystem services lost in the Karoo are usually in the form of provisioning services, in the case of grazing but also groundwater,” Bredell said.

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In the next three years, Bredell said the funding allocation for alien plant invasions would be dependent on budget allocation in the 2023 and 2024 years which amounted to over R15 million.

Baartman said the Western Cape already spent as much as it possibly could for alien plantation clearing – as well as drought relief to the community – but its funds were dependent on national grants.

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