A sustainable development approach in the control of alien invasion vegetation
Author(s)Ndwayana, Hamilton Ncedo
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AbstractInvasive alien tree species have negative environmental and economic impacts throughout the world. For example, black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) threatens native habitats by competing with and so repressing or excluding indigenous vegetation: in this way it replaces grass communities, reduces biodiversity, and increases water loss from riparian zones, thereby fundamentally damaging the ecosystem. The Acacia mearnsii threat requires urgent attention: effective control and management is urgently required if these deleterious impacts are to be reversed or prevented. The present study was conducted in the Elliot and Ugie communities situated in the Sakhisizwe and Elundini Local Municipalities. The objective of this study was to design integrated, efficient and cost-effective methods to help farmers and members of these communities with control and management of alien plant invasions. Further the study aimed to evaluate the implementation and efficacy of Working for Water (WfW) initiatives in poverty alleviation, and skills development: in addition the study attempted to assess WfW inputs as regards relevant legislation aimed at combating major wattle invasions. Mixed methodological approaches were employed, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Questionnaire surveys, semi-structured interviews, use of photos, content analyses of local documents and experimental field work were all employed in order to collect and interpret data for the study. The study reveals that mechanical control and rehabilitation in combating should provide efficient and cost-effective methods for proper management of rangelands. Moreover the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) should be urged to devise and enforce legislation that will help to ensure sustainable control and management of black wattle through conservation of the natural environment. Furthermore funds should be made available for wattle eradication programmes so as alleviate poverty by creating more job opportunities for members of poor communities.