A strategic study of the impact of invasive alien plants in the high rainfall catchments and riparian zones of South Africa on total surface water yield#
The aim of this study was to develop a methodology to determine the impact of upland (non-riparian) invasive alien plants in the high rainfall catchments and riparian areas in all catchments on the total surface water yield available in each of the water management areas of South Africa. This would enable the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) through its public programme Working for Water (WfW) to develop a user charge system for the clearing of invasive alien plants in South Africa. It was found that the total impact of upland invasive alien plants in the high rainfall catchments on the total surface water yield of the country, which included the yield from major dams, minor dams and run-of-river yield, was currently approximately 172 x 106 m3/a and could go up to as much as 1 410 x 106 m3/a in the future. The impact varied greatly between water management areas and had the potential to reach 50 % (195 x 106 m3/a) of registered water use in the Thukela WMA in the future if not controlled. The reduction in yield due to invasive alien plants in the riparian zone in all catchments was estimated to be approximately 523 x 106 m3/a under current conditions and this could increase to 1 314 x 106 m3/a if the riparian zone was allowed to become fully invaded. The combined impact was estimated at 4% of current registered water use and could increase to 16 % of registered water use in the future.