Biological invasions are a large and growing concern—globally and in South Africa. Many thousands of species have been translocated from their native ranges to novel environments, where some have become invasive. Biological invasions threaten native biodiversity, reduce the ability of ecosystems to deliver vital services like adequate water supply, and have direct negative impacts on the well-being of millions of people by threatening their health and the country’s rural economy.
How South Africa is dealing with the problem
The South African government has implemented legislation to deal with biological invasions, and has invested substantially in biosecurity and control measures to prevent biological invasions and mitigate their impacts. The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries are spending over 1 billion rand annually to control invasions, but money is also spent by other governmental agencies, NGOs and private individuals. The report provides details on the status and impacts of 1880 alien species of which 776 are invasive, the degree to which sites are invaded and impacted; and assessing the full range of interventions that South Africa has used to address the problem.
About the report:
SANBI — the South African National Biodiversity Institute — is mandated, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of 2004 and its Regulations, to report every three years to the Minister on the status of biological invasions and the effectiveness of control measures.
The report acts to improve the links between policy, on-ground management, research, and monitoring and evaluation. It thus helps inform the development and ongoing adaptation of appropriate policies and control measures, both to reduce the negative impacts of biological invasions, and to retain any benefits of invasive species where desirable and possible.
This first report released in 2017 was the first comprehensive attempt to assess the status of biological invasions across all aspects of the problem at a national level anywhere in the world.
How the report is undertaken:
The report is led by SANBI in collaboration with the DSI-NRF Center of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB), and is compiled with contributions from a wide range of individuals from numerous organisations. The report is based on information from a range of sources: inputs from experts and practitioners, atlas data, published scientific papers and theses, as well as management records from government agencies. To ensure the saliency of the report, draft versions were sent out for public review by experts and stakeholders, which resulted in the inclusion of additional information and schools of thought. A research and advisory committee was also established to provide oversight of the process.
The structure of the reports:
The report is organised around four aspects:
- pathways of introduction and dispersal;
- alien species;
- invaded sites; and
- the effectiveness of interventions
The report is based around a set of indicators that were developed to assess trends and identify gaps in the evidence required to inform decision making. For more information follow this link. These indicators include four high-level indicators (one for each aspect) which were specially developed for use in the national suite of environmental indicators on which the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries reports on a regular basis.
Biological Invasions in South Africa (an encyclopaedic open access book published in 2020 parallel to the production of the second report) Special issue of the journal African Biodiversity and Conservation (Bothalia) (published in 2017 parallel to the production of the first report)
Center of excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB) (an inter-institutional Centre of Excellence established in 2004 within the DSI-NRF Centres of Excellence Programme, and the main partner for producing the status reports)
Invasive species South Africa (a general web-site with information on all aspects of biological invasions in South Africa)
References and the species list
The first report
For citations in the scientific literature: Van Wilgen, B.W. & Wilson, J.R. (Eds.) 2018. The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa in 2017. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch and DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch. ISBN: 978-1-928224-18-1
For citations in policy documents: SANBI and C•I•B, 2018. The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa in 2017. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch and DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch. ISBN: 978-1-928224-18-1
The second report
For citations in the scientific literature: Zengeya, T.A. & Wilson, J.R. (eds.) 2020. The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa in 2019. pp.71. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch and DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch. http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3947613 ISBN: 978-1-928224-41-9
For citations in policy documents: SANBI and CIB 2020. The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa in 2019. pp.71. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch and DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch. http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3947613 ISBN: 978-1-928224-41-9
List of alien species
This is currently a static list released with the second report (so last updated December 2019).
In future the list will be integrated with SANBI’s biodiversity information portal and updated regularly as new information become available.
For more information:
Contact: Tsungai Zengeya
Phone: +27 21 799 8408
Tweet, Like and Follow @SANBI_ZA for updates and news on invasive alien species.