Clearing alien bush for rooibos

The clearing of invasive alien vegetation within the greater rooibos production region is critical for water catchment preservation and regional biodiversity. The following article appeared yesterday in THE NEW AGE newspaper. Its great to see the SA Rooibos Council and Western Cape Dept of Agriculture backing alien clearing initiaves.


THE NEW AGE, 20 Jun 2012 Page 7:


Rooibos farmers near Clanwilliam are in the process of clearing close to 2 000 hectares of alien vegetation in the Olifants River rain catchment area. Gerhard Pretorius, the manager of Right Rooibos South Africa, said yesterday the area was the only spot where rooibos was grown, with the bulk being produced in the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor.


Port Jackson, Rooikrans and Bluegum invasives to be cleared


The project in clearing the alien vegetation forms part of a 10-year project. Pretorius said the project had mapped 1891 hectares of alien vegetation, which is mainly Port Jackson (in the image above), rooikrans and blue gum. “It is a massive task of which clearing the aliens is only a part. “


As important is constantly revisiting cleared areas to prevent re-infestation and destroy the seed bed. “This requires long-term commitment as it can take years. “Some of the cleared land is being restored to fynbos, while other sections are being used for agriculture,” he said.


Pretorius said the project was funded by the government’s community-based National Landcare programme, and the project implemented through the Western Cape department of agriculture.


To date 52 temporary jobs have been created. “Although the project is only in its second year, the results are encouraging. Surface water is again starting to flow in some of the cleared riverine areas and the natural vegetation is recovering. “Rooibos production has commenced again in some areas which were previously infested by Port Jackson, to allow cultivation,” Pretorius said.