PICS: Cleanup of water-sucking alien plants on Knysna River underway

Cape Town - SANParks groups have been working hard to clear out invasive plants on the banks of the Knysna River. 

The invasive species limits the flow of the river to the Knysna estuary, and by removing the water-sucking plants the river can be fuller and flow easier. Some of the plants however can only be gotten to by either swimming or by boat.

SEE: #KnysnaRises: SANParks makes restoration progress in Garden Route

The team, made up of local Working for Water community members and Knysna marine rangers, are being led by Maretha Alant, the environmental planner for Garden Route National Park, who points to good weather for the increased efforts to get rid of plant islands above Charlsford Weir.

This is where extraction pipes pump water to the residents of Knysna, and if the water plants get out of control it could impede this function. It also falls under the park's 'buffer zone', which helps protect the integrity of Garden Route National Park.

"A challenge facing us in this task was findings teams with good swimmers. We’ve created a barge and are able to transport all felled trees on a barge across the river," says Alant. 

SEE: Fishing without a permit in Knysna Estuary? SANParks has its eye on you

This cleanup programme has various benefits besides the protection of the ecosystem, as it also creates more local jobs. The team has been clearing the Knysna river for the past three years.

A finger has been pointed towards pervasive alien plant species as being a contributing factor to the devastation of last year's Garden Route fires, which destroyed parts of Knysna. According to a statement released by the Endangered Wildlife Trust soon after the fires, there's an urgent need for more proactive policies on alien vegetation to prevent such a disaster from happening again.

Local government, the private sector, residents and communities are urged to get involved and learn more about their area's invasive species. You can find out more here.

Before the cleanup:

SANPARKS Garden Route National Park

During the cleanup:

SANPARKS Garden Route National Park

One of the team members commenting on the invasive lilies:

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