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Cape Town – Invasive species are the third largest threat to South Africa’s biodiversity after cultivation and land degradation, according to a report released in Cape Town on Friday by Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Barbara Creecy.
The report, entitled Status of Biological Invasions and their Management in South Africa in 2019, estimates the ecological costs of invasive alien plants and animals at more than R6.5 billion per year.
The report said the main costs associated with losses are a decline in ecosystem services such as water and pasture, as well as a decline in agriculture as a result of invasive pests.
Creecy said, “The loss of biodiversity is closely linked to the collapse of ecosystem services such as the provision of freshwater and grazing.
“Current estimates show that if the biological invasion of pastureland were not controlled, the land could lose up to 70% of this valuable natural asset and this will reduce the capacity of natural pastures to support livestock production, and thus rural livelihoods and food production threaten. “.”
During the launch, Creecy announced that South Africa has secured funding for a project to improve the efficient management of high-risk biological invasions by sponsoring a global environmental agency.
According to the report, the number of alien species established in South Africa increased by 15% from 1,637 to 1,880, about a third of which are invasive.
Formal impact assessments of invasive species are currently being conducted using a new UN scheme developed in collaboration with the SA National Biodiversity Institute and scientists from the Center of Excellence in Invasion Biology.
The provincial government released the Western Cape Biodiversity Bill for public comment last week.
Environmental Matters and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said: “This powerful legal instrument will enable the conservation and sustainable and equitable use of biological diversity. The Western Cape Biodiversity Bill will directly support our commitment to the Edinburgh Declaration. “
Bredell joined Razeena Omar, CEO of CapeNature, to sign the Edinburgh Declaration, which underscores the shared commitment of national governments to implement the Biodiversity Goals and the goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and further strengthens.
The draft of the Biodiversity Act is available at: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/eadp/files/atoms/files/Western%20Cape%20Biodoversity%20Bill%202021.pdf
Meanwhile, the city’s Invasive Species Department is currently removing Madeira Vine and American Bramble from the Kirstenhof wetland.
Mayco Spatial Planning and Environment Member Marian Nieuwoudt said, “Both species are listed as invasive alien species under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.
“As the landowner, the city is legally obliged to manage and control these listed invasive alien species in order to protect and maintain the unique biodiversity in the region.”