Invasive Alien Species

Information and updates on management Invasive Alien Species in Kei Country


Steps Towards Invasive Alien Plant Management in Kei Mouth

The topic of Invasive Alien Plant (IAP) removal in Kei Mouth is often at the fore of discussions on the Kei Mouth Chat Group. There are many opinions and suggestions put forward on this forum. Kei Mouth Ratepayers and Residents’ Association (KMRRA), along with the Kei Revival Group and the WESSA Green Coast Committee have been hard at work in the background, investigating the issue and formulating a plan to deal with IAP management in our village. It is imperative that we have a plan in place with an agreed and co-ordinated effort to manage and control IAP’s. Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson has formulated a comprehensive document in this regard. The information below highlights some important aspects of the document. The full document can be accessed here.

The impacts of invasive alien plant species on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in South Africa have been widely researched and well documented. Alien plants species are considered among the principal threats to biodiversity in South Africa.  However, these impacts are not restricted to biodiversity loss alone, but also extend to the goods and services that healthy, intact ecosystems are able to provide.

The increased biomass resulting from invasion by alien woody species increases fire risk and results in hotter, more dangerous fires. These hotter fires destroy natural seed banks and increase water repellence in soils, reducing infiltration and increasing erosion. This, in turn, gives rise to increased flooding and consequently damage to property and infrastructure. The density of alien plant species also reduces recreational opportunities by eliminating access.

Another important ramification of invasion by large woody species such as the Australian wattles is that they alter the quantity and quality of water in catchment areas. These species have higher transpiration rates than the indigenous flora. This means, less water in the soil, reduced streamflow, and reduced yields from dams. Water security is becoming increasingly uncertain due to climate change thus increasing the necessity of clearing catchment areas of alien plant invasions.

What are we aiming to achieve through this document?

  • Provide guidance on the removal of existing alien invasive species in Kei Mouth
  • Establish a plan to ensure that alien invasive plants do not become established
  • Establish a plan to ensure that alien invasive species do not become dominant in all or part of the landscape
  • To implement a monitoring programme to:
    • detect the presence of alien plant species
    • monitor the success of the alien invasive eradication measures.

How do we go about achieving this?

The South African Government has listed steps to be undertaken when implementing an IAP control and management plan. In line with the Government’s listed steps, KMRRA, and Kei Mouth WESSA Green Coast are proposing to follow the steps when formulating the management plan.

Step 1:

Carry out a site assessment to establish the current situation

Step 2:

Set objectives based on resources available and priorities

Step 3:

Develop and implement and action plan to achieve objectives

Step 4:

Monitor Performance and change actions as necessary

Where are we in terms of the above steps?

Carry out a site assessment

To date no formal assessment of the the current situation has been implemented. It is agreed that we do have an IAP problem in Kei Mouth, but without a formal assessment, we are unable to establish the ‘full picture’. To carry out a formal assessment we would need a team of interested individuals to assist with conducting a comprehensive mapping exercise of the area. You can contact us by sending an email to Once this information is available, it will be possible to set objectives, develop a plan, implement the plan and thereafter monitor the plan.

Without knowing what the current situation is, it is impossible to establish a formal plan. The efforts of well-meaning individuals, spraying and cutting down trees where they believe is appropriate, may not assist in achieving the objectives of the management plan, and may in fact cause further unintended negative consequences such as a fire hazard.

The way forward for Kei Mouth

The KMRRA would like to acknowledge the efforts by private individuals in IAP clearing and hope to continue to work with passionate individuals following a formal management plan. This process, however, needs to be formalised for a number of reasons, namely:

  • Kei Mouth is part of the WESSA Green Coast which stipulates that we need an IAP control plan
  • Great Kei Municipality Invasive Control Plan is not accessible and has not met the requirements for the Working for Water Programme and government Invasive Control Plans.
  • The reality is that we are not expecting to receive any assistance from Great Kei Municipality in this regard. with this in mind:
    • We would like to apply for funding from Working for Water and other sources of funding that individuals may be to assist us in souring. Please contact if you are able to assist!
  • In order to access / leverage funding:
    • We need to have a targeted approach with well-defined goals.

The KMRRA has commissioned this document as part of a project to be undertaken by the WESSA Green Coast and the Kei Mouth Revival Group.  A sub-committee for alien removal falls under KMRRA.

The sub-committee will:

  • Agree on the land parcel to be monitored and controlled.
  • Arrange for an initial survey of the village to fill in missing data and identify priority areas and species.
  • Conduct follow-up surveys every six months
  • Report on progress to KMRRA, with the report included in the annual WESSA Green Coast report, which forms part of Kei Mouth’s annual WESSA Green Coast Application.

How can I help?

There are many ways that individuals can help with establishing and implementing a formal IAP Monitoring and Control Plan.

  • Donate your time to assist with the initial survey of the village.
    • We will provide the necessary training needed to conduct the survey
  • Donate your time, staff or other resources needed for us to implement the monitoring and control plan.
  • Assist us with procuring funding for the Kei Mouth IAP Monitoring and Control Programme

In your own yard:

  • Educate yourself about the plants in your garden-
    • Identify the Invasive Alien Plants
    • Establish which category they belong to
    • Eratidate that that are in category 1a and 1b
    • Replace Invasive Alien Plants with Indigenous Species
    • Check that any you plants going into your garden are not on the Invasive Species list.
    • Refer to books and the internet for info.

Where can I find more info?

KMRRA, along with the Kei Mouth WESSA Green Coast is committed to providing the community with information. We will be running a series called “Know your Kei Country Aliens” where we will be regularly publishing information on Invasive Alien Plants. This series will include Invasive Species found in Kei Country, how to identify them and how to get rid of them.

Read the first article in this series, which gives a general introduction to Invasive Alien Species, what the law says and our first example of a Kei Country Invasive Alien Plant- The well-known Lantana.

Read the full version of the KMRRA Alien Invasive Management document for detailed information on Invasive Alien Management in Kei Mouth. This document also includes a list of known invasive species in Kei Country.

Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa, by Clive Bromilow  vorgestellt im Namibiana Buchdepot

A great resource is a book entitled “Problem Plants and Alien Weeds of South Africa“, by Clive Bromilow.

  • Cost: R 410,00 delivered to Kei Mouth. (Retail Price usually R 450)

(Contact Monica Maroun on to order your copy and have it delivered to Kei Mouth Free of Charge.

Chat to Monica about cost of delivery to elsewhere in South Africa.)

invasive plants

Invasive Alien Species in Kei Country Part 1:

What are invasive alien species?

An invasive alien invader species is a species that is not from our country. They are called exotic, non-native or of foreign origin. This refers to any plant or animal species that has been introduced to South Africa from a different country.

The introduction of exotic species to countries or new areas has been happening for millenia. With the advent of global travel, ships carrying animals, food and people to different parts of the world have accelerated this. Over the past 500 years, there has been an explosion of Invasive Alien Species across the globe. A well documented consequence of this is the Small Pox pandemic that began spreading in the 6th century when increased trade with China and Korea took Smallpox to Japan. Historians have been able to trace the global spread of Smallpox to the growth of civilizations and exploration.

The rapid spread of COVId-19 and resulting global pandemic can be attributed to the planet being a GLobal Village with the movement of people across the globe nowadays being more than ever.

Invasive Alien plants and animals reach our shores from foreign countries through several mechanisms

  • Some”hitch a ride”. The invasive alien species is present in food, other organic materials and the the clothing of people. These are unsuspectingly brought to a new country by a visitor. The TV series “Border Control” shows how serious countries like Australia are about keeping Invasive Aliens out of their country.
  • People also “import” aliens on purpose. It is said that the weed Lantana was brought to South Africa and Kei Country by ladies who thought it was a pretty plant and cultivated it in their gardens.
  • Many Alien Invasive plants have been introduced to countries on purpose for commercial use. A prominent example of this in South Africa is the deliberate introduction of pine and black wattle for commercial use.
  • Some plants were introduced because they were erroneously thought to do a better job than the indigenous species. An example of this in the Eastern Cape is the introduction of Port Jackson to stabilise coastal dunes.

Why are Invasive Alien Species a problem?

Many Invasive Alien Species were introduced to South Africa for a purpose. These plants and animals were introduced without their natural predators, and when they ‘escaped’ into our natural habitats they began to threaten the natural plant and animal species.

According to Clive Brimelow, author of Problem plants and alien weeds in South Africa, “The spread of exotics or biological pollution, is one of the greatest threats to the earth’s biological diversity, and as a threat of extinction, bio-invasion may rank just behind habitat loss, which covers almost any physical disruption of existing habitats.

Invasive alien plants compete with natural vegetation for water and space, often out-competing natural vegetation. Without natural predators to keep their numbers in check, they reproduce and spread quickly. They often take up more water than the surroudning natural vegetation. The result of this is that more alien plants grow, and fewer indigenous plants are able to to grow. This results in a disrution and weakening of the ecosystem, with the indigenous animals no longer being able to rely on the plants they have evolve with over millenia for food also disappearing. The final result of this is a loss of biodiversity and a depletion of water resources.

The invasive plants often form dense stands of the same species,representing a high fuel load for veld fires. This unnaturally high fuel load leads to extremely hot veld fires, that in turn damage the structure of the soil.

What is being done about the problem?

The first efforts to control and eradicate invasive alien species in South Africa began with the fight to bring the prickly pear’s “scourge to agriculture” under control in the Eastern Cape, way back in 1906. Efforts to eradicate and control invasive alien species have been ongoing ever since. It is estimated that Invasive Alien Plants have become established in over 10 million hectares of land in South Africa, and control efforts cost the country more than R 600 million a year.

There is now legislation governing the introduction and control of invasive species in South Africa. The Department of Environmental Affairs manages Invasive Alien Species under the National Environment Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) 10 of 2004. This Act aims to provide the framework, norms and standards for the conservation, sustainable use, and equitable benefit-sharing of South Africa’s biological resources. Alien plants and animals are placed into three categories depending on the severity of their effect on the natural environment.

Invasive plant and animal species in South Africa
  • 750 tree species
  • 8 000 herbaceous species
    • of these 1 000 are considered naturalised
    • 379 plant species are invasive
    • 238 are prohibited
  • 4 invasive Marine Plants
  • 41 invasive mammal species
  • 24 invasive bird species
  • 29 invasive reptile species
  • 2 invasive amphibian species
  • 15 invasive freshwater fish species
  • 23 invasive invertebrate species
  • 9 invasive freshwater invertebrate species
  • 17 invasive marine invertebrate species
  • 7 invasive microbial species

The full list can be downloaded here

On the 1st of August 2014, the Minister of Environmental Affairs published the Alien Invasive Species regulation. This regulation listed a total of 559 alien species as invasive in South Africa and 560 more species were listed as prohibited and may not be introduced into South Africa. The regulation places invasive alien species into the four categories below.

Category 1a:

Invasive species requiring compulsary control

These are prohibited plants that must be eradicated.

These plants serve no economic purpose and possess characteristics that are harmful to humans, animals and the environment.

These plants need, by law, to be eradicated from the environment

Category 1b:

Invasive species requiring compulsory control as part of an invasive species control programme

Remove and destroy.

These plants are deemed to have such a high invasive potential that infestations can qualify to be placed under government sponsored invasive speicies management programmes.

Category 2:

Declared invader plants with a commercial or utility value

These are ‘invaders’ with certain useful qualities, such as commercial for forestry, animal fodder, soil stabilisation etc.

These plants are allowed in demarcated areas under controlled conditions and in biocontrol reserves.

Category 3:

Mostly ornamental plants

These are plants that are currently growing in or have escaped from areas such as gardens, but are proven invaders.

No further planting is allowed, nor trade in propagative material.

Existing plants may remain, but must be prevented from spreading.

The alien invasive species Regulation also stipulates that “Organs of state in all spheres of government, including all municipalities, draw up an “Invasive Species Monitoring Control and Eradication Plan for land under their control.”

The Kei Mouth Ratepayers and Residents’ Association (KMRRA) Alien Invasive Management document elaborates on the steps taken by Great Kei Municipality to put a plan in place.

What can I do?

We each have a responsibility to preventing the spread of Invasive Alien Species. We can do this by:

Plant indigenous species from this area

Confirm that new plants in your garden are not invasive

Remove invasives and replace with indigenous species

How do I know if a plant is an alien invasive species?

We have tried to make it a little easier for Kei Country and put together a list of known Invasive Alien Plants in Kei Country.

We will be publishing a weekly series called “Know your Kei Country Aliens” The weekly series will highlight an invasive species in Kie Country, giving a bit of background to the history of the species in South Africa, how to identify it, what potential threats it poses to the environment, humans and animals, and how to control and eradicate the species.

Problem plants and alien weeds of South Africa, by Clive Bromilow  vorgestellt im Namibiana Buchdepot

There have been several books written on this topic. The book “Problem Plants and Alien Weeds of South Africa”, written by Clive Bromilow has become “an indispensable guide for anyone interested in knowing how to recognise, understand and control troublesome plants.”

  • Cost: R 410,00 delivered to Kei Mouth. (Retail Price usually R 450)

(Contact Monica Maroun on to order your copy and have it delivered to Kei Mouth Free of Charge.

Chat to Monica about cost of delivery to elsewhere in South Africa.)

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