Project deals with invasive plants

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Coca Cola Foundation has invested in five projects aimed at addressing South Africa’s bulk water security in key catchment areas across the country.

“[The projects] focus on removing thirsty, invasive alien plants and restoring the landscape to increase surface water flow rates and reduce sediment in our dams. This work supports the cycle of replenishment and helps our water systems work the way nature intended,” the Coca Cola Company, South African Franchise General Manager Luis Avellar said.

Addressing the launch of the project, Avellar said about 1.44 billion cubic metres of water is lost to invasive alien plants nationally each year.

“Alien vegetation, such as pines, eucalyptus, and wattles now grow 'wild' across much of South Africa and reduce water availability by 4%. If left to spread uncontrolled, this figure could escalate to 16% according to the WWF, placing further pressure on our freshwater ecosystems,” he said.

Through the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), the Coca-Cola Foundation is investing in the projects to remove 'thirsty’ invasive alien plants.

These five projects build on two other RAIN projects in South Africa. In 2018, the Coca-Cola Foundation provided seed funding for The Nature Conservancy’s Greater Cape Town Water Fund on the Atlantis Aquifer.

The five projects also have an economic spin-off as it includes training and mentorship opportunities for women and young people.

“Our projects go beyond simply providing jobs and focus on the development of small, micro and medium enterprises that support ongoing work needed to keep invasive alien plants out of catchment areas, ravines and wetland areas.

The five projects will be taking place in the following geographical areas:

  • The expansion of the alien invasive plant removal site for the Greater Cape Town Water Fund to the Wemmershoek Dam, serving the Greater Cape Town area with the Nature Conservancy.
  • Catchment restoration in the upper Umzimvubu, Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, serving East London with WWF South Africa.
  • Wetland rehabilitation with the Wolseley Water Users Association in the Western Cape, serving the Greater Cape Town area, with WWF South Africa.
  • Seed funding for the Algoa Water Fund, to remove invasive alien plants and restore landscape in the Diep River, serving the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with partner Living Lands.
  • Water Conservation in the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, a catchment area serving towns such as Polokwane, Mokopane, Mookgopong, Modimolle, Louis Trichardt, Musina and Lephalale with the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy said that investments in the country’s ecological infrastructure were not hand-outs, but real investments in business risk reduction, real investments in water security, real investments in the nation and its prosperity.  

“Even without drought conditions, South Africa is an arid country, one of the 30 driest countries in the world. So, while we are celebrating the fact that the dams that provide Cape Town with its water are just over 50% full, we have to do more than gamble on ‘good weather’ to ensure our water security.

“We all know without water there can be no life, no growth, no shared prosperity,” the Minister said.

She said the work of creating and maintaining the nation’s water security is not the work of one or two government departments, municipalities or state-owned entities – it is the work of the nation.

“Water security is everyone’s business. Government simply cannot do it alone and we need active private sector, community and citizen involvement,” Creecy said. –