Working for Water ...what is it?
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Working for Water ...what is it?.

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Working for Water ...what is it?

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Working for water what is it

Working for Water ...what is it?

This programme will sustainably control invading alien species, to optimise the potential use of natural resources, through the process of economic empowerment and transformation. In doing this, the programme will leave a legacy of social equity and legislative, institutional and technical capacity.

Working for water what is it


  • Working for Water was launched in 1995 in an effort to tackle the problem of invading alien plants and unemployment. It is a multi-departmental initiative led by the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Agriculture.

  • With 300 projects throughout the country, the programme aims to enhance water security, improve ecological integrity, restore the productive potential of land and promote sustainable use of natural resources and invest in the most marginalised sectors of South African society. 

Working for water what is it

KEY STATISTICS:750 tree species and 8 000 herbaceous species introduced into South Africa1 000 introduced species are naturalised, 200 are invasive84 species introduced from South and Central America14 from North America30 from Australia29 from Europe36 from Asia45% of species from Australia have become important pests

Working for water what is it

  • Invading alien plants are spreading across virtually the entire country.

  • We currently need to clear over 10 million hectares of invaded land (of varying densities of invasion).

  • Stands are spreading and growing at an average of about 5% per year (i.e., doubling every 15 years).

  • The graph indicates that, despite working at unprecedented levels nationally (and possibly internationally!), we are not reducing the extent of invading alien plants in South Africa.

  • We propose a 20-year clearing strategy, as shown on the graph. This requires 750 000 ha to be cleared annually at a (current) cost of about R600 million per year, after which there would only be follow-up costs

Working for water what is it

  • Any control programme for alien vegetation must include the following 3 phases:

  • Initial control: drastic reduction of existing population

  • Follow-up control: control of seedlings, root suckers and coppice growth

  • Maintenance control: sustain low alien plant numbers with annual control

Working for water what is it


Where trees cannot be utilised (on steep slopes), do not fell trees, control them in situ.

Working for water what is it


Acacia cyclops

Rooikrantz together with Port Jackson willow is one of Cape Town’s main invading plants. Imported from Australia, Rooikrans, also known as red eye or by its scientific name Acacia cyclops, is easily identifiable with its twisted brown seed pods, containing seeds resembling the single eye of the cyclops

Working for water what is it

Port Jackson Willow - Acacia saligna

Port Jackson willow is one of Cape Town’s main invading plants. Imported from Australia, Port Jackson willow is characterised by conspicuous yellow flowers in spring. A rust fungus has been introduced to control it.

Working for water what is it


Pinus spp

A variety of species of Pine are invasive in South Africa and they come mostly from Mediterranean Europe and North America.

Pines usually invade the mountain areas, but surprisingly even if heavily an area is heavily invaded and gets cleared natural Fynbos is fairly easily restored.

Working for water what is it

Hakea spp

Hakea species are a species belonging to the Proteaceae and come from Australia. They are particularly invasive in Mountain Fynbos areas and were one of the first Invasive Alien Species to be investigated for biological control which was successful.

Working for water what is it

Working for Water also works closely with South Africa National Parks to eradicate invasive species from Protected Areas

Working for water what is it

Working for Water also works closely with other Campaigns and Projects such as

UKUVUKA and Global Invasive Species Programme


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