Alien Vegetation Clearing and the training programme

Alien Vegetation Clearing and the training programme

What does the Alien Vegetation Management training do?

The  Alien Vegetation Management programme teaches people to notice, appreciate and protect the unique biodiversity of fynbos. It also teaches appropriate techniques to remove alien or foreign plants that should not be growing within the fynbos biome. Accurate identification of fynbos plant species as well as alien vegetation species, and understanding the reasons for clearing these plants from important areas is important to the success of the programme… The programme includes certificates for accredited training in Chainsaw Operation, Brushcutter Operation and First Aid, valuable and transferable skills.

How long is the training programme?

The initial Alien Vegetation Management training course takes 5- 10 days depending on the prior knowledge, education and skills of the group. The course includes both theory and practical sessions in the field, face to face with fynbos.

Who do you train?

This training programme has been specifically developed to offer training opportunities for better employment to vulnerable or unemployed women from Gansbaai, Pearly Beach and Stanford, the communities who live with the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Thilivali communicates with three main Alien Vegetation contractors in the area. These contractors manage and recruit their own team members from within their communities which ensures a good and lasting relationship with the community.  

Three main contractors identify and assemble teams to be sent to the Grootbos Foundation for training.

This training programme has been specifically developed to offer training opportunities for better employment to
vulnerable or unemployed women in our local areas –
Gansbaai, Pearly Beach and Stanford.

How do alien plants affect the fynbos in our area? 

  • Not only do Alien plants use 10% of our annual water supply as they are incredibly thirsty critters, which in turn cause serious problems for our already battling water shortage country, but they also block rivers and dams stream flow which slows down irrigation channels and water supplies. 
  • Alien vegetation competes with our local fynbos and often either shades it out, overcrowds or smothers it. 
  • Alien vegetation often causes fires to break out in large areas where Acacias, Pines and Hakeas are found, causing the fynbos seeds to be killed and lost. Once a fire has gone through a pristine fynbos area, the area can never be restored, often losing critically endangered fynbos species as well. 
  • Soil erosion is caused by these alien plants after a fire. 
  • Animals have their natural habitat endangered and often lost, as well as their movement restricted by the dense alien vegetation which quickly takes over an area. 

What are the benefits of alien clearing?

Clearing alien plants from areas of fynbos is vital to ensure that less water is lost to thirsty invasive plants. The ‘unlost’ water can therefore be used to support economic activities including agricultural production and to support natural ecosystems instead. Conservation of water is a priority in water-scarce regions of South Africa.

The fynbos biome is one of the most diverse in terms of plant species. By clearing alien vegetation, we can better preserve and conserve special plant species. 

By clearing alien vegetation, we can better preserve and conserve
special plant species. 

Which jobs are available once trainees complete their training?

The skills gained in this course equip women to become biodiversity stewards within the landscape to implement natural resource management work within the landscape. Job examples include flower harvesting, fire management, seasonal work on local wine farms to prune vineyards, firewood harvesting and trail maintenance.

So the training and conservation go hand in hand. Please elaborate.

Yes, we emphasize the importance of conservation to instil a sense of pride and understanding among trainees. Their skills and their work within the fynbos is a key part of conservation, ensuring a lasting legacy for future generations while at the same time, generating income for their families in a sustainable way.

What are the most common aliens found? (On the reserve and in the Western Cape)

Acacia cyclops – Rooikrans; Acacia saligna – port Jackson; Leptospermum laevigatum – Australian Myrtle; Acacia mearnsii – Black wattle; Paraserianthes lophantha – Stinkbean; Pine trees; Eucalyptus trees; Hakea; Populus x canescens – Grey poplar

At Grootbos Foundation we emphasize the importance of conservation to instil a sense of pride and understanding amongst our trainees.

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