10000 hectares cleared of alien vegetation - News | DEA&DP

10000 hectares cleared of alien vegetation

23 February 2021

Ten thousand hectares of land, stretching across seven critical mountain water catchment areas in the Western Cape and the Atlantis Aquifer, has been cleared of invasive alien plants.

Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, says the work that has been done to date, is delivering a sustainable yield of 4.8 billion litres of water per year.

“A total of R 21.3 million has been invested by several partners within a collaborative, pioneering partnership over the past 12 months to reach this milestone. The partnership includes The Nature Conservancy – a global agency - CapeNature, the City of Cape Town, WWF-South Africa and Working on Fire.”

Bredell says the program was launched in 2018, the same year Cape Town came close to running out of water.

“The Nature Conservancy launched the Greater Cape Town Water Fund that year. The fund is all about removing invasive, thirsty and highly combustible tree species such as pine and acacia, which consume large amounts of Cape Town’s water supply. Since then the partners have been working hard on this program. CapeNature contributed R 1 857 008 towards the fund and has cleared 2 520 hectares of the total to date.”

Bredell says the program ultimately aims to clear 54 300 hectares across the catchments, and 5 000 hectares across the Atlantis Aquifer.

“The effort will not only free up some 14.5 billion litres of water for Cape Town each year but also reduce the risk of wildfire and restore native wildlife habitat.”

The program has also led to the creation of 100 green jobs, including the training of 57 high-altitude rope technicians, to work in the rugged remote mountains where they are removing the invasive pines, wattles and gums.

“It is a very hard job these men and women are doing, in very difficult terrain, but we are grateful to them and to see the results of their labour. This program forms part of the Western Cape Government’s ongoing efforts to ensure greater water security for the province.”