South African National Parks (SANParks) teams (local Working for Water) and Knysna marine rangers have prioritized clearing alien invasive plants bordering the Knysna River.
The purpose of the project is to allow more water to flow freely as invasive alien plant species (IAPs) suck up chunks of water especially in areas close to water sources.
Managing this task for the last 3 years is Maretha Alant who is the Environmental Planner for the Garden Route National Park (GRNP). ‘We took advantage of the good weather forecast for this week to clear alien islands in the Knysna River above the Charlsford Weir. This is where extraction pipes are located that supply water to the residents of Knysna.’
Alant and her teams have found creative ways of transporting cleared material across the River to the other side. ‘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.’
Park Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon says the Working for Water programme has multiple advantages. It creates work for locals, removes invasive alien plants which is great for both the River and now more water can be released into the Knysna River. The Knysna River feeds the Knysna estuary which is managed as a protected environment under the GRNP. The estuary opens up to the sea.
The initiative to clear IAPs is one of several measures to promote conservation outcomes in the Park’s ‘buffer zone.’ A buffer zone was established around the Park as a strategy to protect the integrity of the Garden Route National Park.