New invasive species laws impact landowners

Alien clearing

Alien clearing

Landowners and municipalities are now required to have a plan to control invasive species on their properties, and have an obligation to remove these species.

New National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) regulations came into force on 1 October 2016. According to the new laws, invasive species are now considered a legal liability to property owners.

The new regulations also states that property sellers must inform potential buyers of invasive species that are found on the property, thereby encouraging estate agents to play a role in encouraging the sale of properties that are clear of invasive species.

An updated invasive species list was also published, replacing older lists. The new list categorises 379 invasive terrestial and fresh water plant species, and a further 4 invasive marine plant species. The species are categorised as Category 1a, 1b, 2 or 3 species.

Flower Valley has coordinated the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Programme over the past three years, working with  government, landowners and project participants to clear invasive species on around 30,000 hectares a year.

The programme forms part of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Land User Incentive Scheme. While the Department provided the funding for the clearing work and the transport, land users and other stakeholders involved provided co-funding commitments and ensured the programme was rolled out successfully.

The programme ended during 2016. Negotiations are ongoing with the Department for the next three year cycle. Annual clearing plans have been developed with landowners and other stakeholders for the next three years, prioritising biodiversity-rich areas that require follow-up clearing work. It’s hoped clearing operations will start within the coming weeks.