New green river goal set

Jarrod Ball has penned a 10-point plan tackling invasive vegetation.

A draft 10-point plan to tackle the long-standing problem of invasive alien vegetation along the Disa River was unveiled at a meeting of the Hout Bay River Catchment Forum (HBRCF) at Kronendal Primary School on Friday May 4.

Invasive alien vegetation has choked the river for years, and the HBRCF has been looking for new ways to tackle the problem.

The plan has emerged largely thanks to the efforts of forum member Jarrod Ball, who has spent many hours observing the prevalence of more than 30 invasive aliens in various sections of the reserve.

Mr Ball has divided the area into six sections and allocated a priority level to each dependent on factors such as what clearing has already taken place, or how much that area is in the public eye.

The area between the Orange Kloof Nature Reserve and the river weir has been awarded Priority 1.

The plan makes provision for the HBRCF to continue alien vegetation hacks in areas where it is easy to make a visible impact, such as the weirs, the bridal path between Blue Valley Close to Bethal Street, the Park Run trail and in the coastal wetland.

Another point of the plan encourages property owners adjacent to the river to clear their sections of the river, an aspect that is already in place.

Where the plan places new emphasis is in a liaison strategy for the City of Cape Town, and in this regard, forum member Jackie Whales will interact with the City’s Richard Burns.

Through such engagements, reports will be presented to the City as a “citizen priority guide” to serve as input when the City chooses its short-term strategy priorities for invasive clearing.

Thanks to this set-up, the HBRCF could then ask the City how they could motivate for the 2018/19 budget to be spent on Priority 1, or how Priorities 2a (Victoria Road) and 2b (Blue Valley Close) could be addressed in the short term.

In respect of the Orange Kloof wetland (Priority 3) the HBRCF is registered as an interested and affected party on the national government initiative, Working for Wetlands’ Orange Kloof Wetland rehabilitation project.

In terms of due process, the HBRCF had submitted comment on consultants’ reports.

In the comment, Mr Ball expresses deep concern about the significant bamboo stands that have grown up and destroyed portions of the Palmiet, Wachendorfia and other indigenous species in the wetland, saying unless this is stopped, it will spread and eventually destroy most of the indigenous wetland vegetation.

Regarding the rest of the river course, the main invasive alien species identified include poplars, lantana (cherry pie), stink bean, rooikraans (port jackson willow), giant reed, and brambles.

Mr Ball cautioned that even when removed, these plants were liable to “come back with a vengeance” and said, “Let’s not fool ourselves, clearing aliens will require a medium- to long-term commitment in the form of ongoing repeat clearing”.

The plan takes into account that the City might not tackle the so-called “big tree” projects, in the event of which the HBRCF could consider approaching the government’s Working for Water programme to assist on a strategy for such areas.

“Felled big trees could then provide wood for their eco-furniture programme and value-added industry, which constructs fire-proof houses for informal settlements amongst other things,” the plan says.

Forum member Professor Justin O’Riain raised the point that sometimes residents did not wish for aliens to be removed as open spaces could be used by criminals as access routes.

At the end of Mr Ball’s presentation, it was decided to form a special committee to work on and implement the plan.

The committee would include representatives from the HBRCF as well as City officials.