In its bid to remain the greenest Province in South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs in the Eastern Cape together with the Ikwezi Municipality are taking strong action against Invasive Alien Plants (IAP) with their “Alien Busters” initiative in the area.

Invasive Alien Plants are plants that have been introduced to areas that are outside their natural habitats, and pose a threat to the indigenous plant species. Communities and natural ecosystems worldwide are under siege from the growing number of destructive invasive alien species such as agricultural weeds, insect pests and even disease organisms.

IAPs are one of the greatest causes of the extinction of plants worldwide. Some of the problems caused by these plants are that they use more water than the vegetation they are invading and cause a drastic reduction in the volume of water that reaches rivers, dams and can even stop streams to flow altogether.

The Ikwezi Municipality’s‘ Alien Buster 2012’ initiative is currently aimed at clearing 528 hectares of invasive plants in the Ikwezi Municipal area over an eight month period creating 150 jobs to assist with poverty alleviation in the area.  The 150 jobs are spread throughout the wards of the Ikwezi Municipality:

  • Jansenville – 101 jobs;
  • Klipplaat – 25 jobs;
  • Waterford – 12 jobs; and
  • Wolwefontein – 12 jobs

Road shows were hosted earlier this year throughout the Ikwezi Municipal area. The road shows were interactive and fun while at the same time educating communities about the importance of eradicating IAPs. Pertinent topics such as: What are IAPS? / Why do we have to remove these plants?/ the different categories of IAPS as well as the different types of IAPs that are found in the Ikwezi Municipality area were discussed with the members of the community. Community members were also informed about the different ways of controlling and managing IAPs.

“The cactus type plants such as the torch cactus that has been brought in from Mexico are the greatest plant invaders in the area,” says Sizwe Mngwevu, Mayor of the Ikwezi Local Municipality. “These plants threaten and deplete our water resources, which are already very limited.

“During Arbour Week 2012, the roadshow team will be revisiting selected areas within the Ikwezi Municipality area on 6 and 7 September 2012, where we will be planting indigenous trees including Spekboom succulents, which have been sequestrated for climate change, in the areas which have been cleared of IAPs. 

“Job creation forms an important element for us during this initiative. It is important for us to educate communities about the importance of eliminating these invasive plants, and why they should not be grown at home.” concludes Mngwevu.

Community members are encouraged to report anyone planting or selling IAPs within the Ikwezi Municipal area to the Municipality’s Community Services Directorate on 049-8360810