The aggressive invasion of alien plants currently proliferating vast parts of KwaZulu-Natal calls for consented efforts from all environmental partners and communities to join hands for the ultimate eradication of the species.

This was the clarion call made by Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs during the clearing of foreign species under the Alien Invasive Species Programme in Jozini, uMkhanyakude District on Thursday.

With the Jozini area and the entire uMkhanyakude facing the scourge of invasive species Dube-Ncube has placed top priority in assisting the area to weed out the deadly species. Both the communities and the livestock have been at the receiving end of the devastating plants resulting in several illnesses and death of livestock.

Addressing throngs of community members who filled KwaJobe Sports Field, Dube-Ncube said the most problematic invasive alien plants which are posing a major threat to natural resources within the province especially in the northern region of KwaZulu-Natal is Parthenium Hysterophorus.

In South Africa, this invasive alien plant is commonly referred to as parthenium, and named ‘famine weed’ or indigenously ‘Umbulalazwe’, due to the detrimental effects that accompany its widespread. “It’s very concerning. That is why I have directed our environmental unit and our organisation Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife devise ways of starting education and awareness campaigns in communities. We need all hands on deck when it comes to fighting alien plants species,” she said.

“This plant originated from Central and South America and is causing substantial economic losses in many countries. South Africa identified this plant and the dangers it poses as far back as 1984. It’s believed to have arrived here in the 1800s,” said MEC Dube-Ncube. “We are happy to say that five years ago the department came up with the Parthenium Strategy to fight mainly this species. It moves fast especially in windy conditions but our environmental unit is able to contain and localise it for ultimate destruction,” she said. In South Africa, parthenium has invaded particularly KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, as well as North-West and Limpopo provinces, and continues to spread.

“This is detrimental effects not only on the environment, but to people and animals who depend on the land for their survival,” said the Leader of Government Business. MEC Dube-Ncube said the loss of biodiversity due to parthenium will severely impact on the livelihoods of many KZN people that directly or indirectly depend on natural resources, be it for trade or consumption. “Disruption in the provision of the ecosystem services will have dire implications for the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the population,” she said. As part of her post-budget speech commitments, MEC Dube-Ncube is visiting several areas around the province in a multi-pronged approach to better the environment, mobilise for economic opportunities and bolster tourism initiatives.

Issued by the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ministry

For more information contact Mr Nathi Olifant on 060 970 5113, Mr Ndabezinhle Sibiya on 082 375 4742 or Ms Thando Biyela on 066 489 7373_