Are you aware of the many kinds of invasive species which are found in South Africa? I am not only talking about weeds which are found in gardens; yes, a lot of the weeds are invasive but to be able to identify the multitude of invasive plant species you must first know what it is that makes them invasive.
Well an invasive species is a plant, fungus or animal species that is not native to a specific area or location; it is introduced into a new area from a different location. The invasive species tend to spread and out-compete the natural plant and animal species, thus causing damage to the environment, economy and even human health. Invasive plant species are a real problem, especially when it comes to our water as they tend to be much thirstier than our endemic and indigenous species.
Globalisation has happened so rapidly, making trade and travel across the world effective and quick; even our means of transport have developed in such a way that everything is just so much easier. But with all the advantages there are some disadvantages.
To give you an example: When a large ship leaves a port, it takes in water to help stabilise the ship, when it arrives at the new destination, which could be thousands of miles away, it empties the contents of water which stabilises the ship again; the ship requires less water when entering the harbour as some harbours are fairly shallow.
If you have to think about the marine life not endemic to those waters; from fish, to crustaceans and microbes. They start competing with the endemic species and this often leads to detrimental effects on the environment. Seeds are dispersed just as easily as with amphibians, birds, insects, mammals and reptiles.
What this all means for you and your garden
So, you are probably asking yourself what this has to do with you. Well the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) manages IAS (Invasive Alien Species) under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA). Act 10 of 2004, this act aims to provide the framework, and standards for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.
On the 1st of August 2014, the Invasive Species Regulations were published in the Government Gazette. It became law on 1 October 2014.
The NEMBA regulations state that the seller of any immovable property must, prior to the relevant sale agreement, notify the purchaser of the property in writing of the presence of listed invasive species on that property. A copy of the Declaration of Invasive Species Form needs to be lodged with the Compliancy Officer, Biosecurity Services and the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Invasive species are a liability to landowners. The law says:
NEMBA (2004): Chapter 5, Part 2, page 60, 73 (2)
A person who is the owner of land on which a listed invasive species occurs must notify any relevant competent authority in writing of the listed invasive species occurring on that land.
NEMBA Alien and Invasive Species Regulations (2014): Chapter 7, Section 29, (1), (2), (3):
The seller of any immovable property must, prior to the conclusion of the relevant sale agreement, notify the purchaser of that property in writing of the presence of listed invasive species on that property.
The Invasive Species are categorised as follows:
Category 1a: Invasive Species which must be combatted and expiated. Any form of trade or planting is prohibited.
Category 1b: Invasive Species which must be controlled and wherever possible removed and destroyed. Any form of trade or planting is prohibited.
Category 2: Invasive Species, or species deemed to be potentially invasive, in that a permit is required to carry out a restricted activity. Category 2 species include imported pine, wattle and gum trees. Plants in riparian areas are a category 1b.
Category 3: Invasive Species which may remain in prescribed areas or provinces. Further planting, propagating or trade is however prohibited. Plants in riparian areas are a category 1b.
Now if you are thinking “I don’t have invasive species on my property”, you should make double sure; non-compliance, can lead to fines and even imprisonment. Remember that there are invasive species consultants who will measure and document the invasive species on your property.
Your consultant will fill out a declaration form for submission to the relevant authorities. The consultant will also be able to give you control methods and guidelines of how to remove the invasive species.
You can learn more about the invasive species in South Africa here.
Please remember that educating yourself on the invasive species found in our country, and possibly your garden, is not only in your own best interest but also for the good of our environment.
Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his hear