The impact of the removal of invasive alien plants on water resources system yield: Helping Cape Town to avoid day zero

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James Cullis

Publication Date:

The City of Cape Town has recently experienced a severe drought that nearly resulted in a city of over 4 million people running out of water. In response to this crisis, the City of Cape Town has fast tracked a number of potential water supply augmentation options. One of the priority actions is to improve catchment management through the removal of invasive alien plants from the catchments of the major water supply dams. South Africa has embraced this aspect of catchment management primarily through the ‘Working for Water’ program, as it had been shown that the continued invasion of the catchment areas will have a significant impact on water resources availability and yield. In this study we review previous estimates of the potential benefits from the removal of invasive alien plants on the catchment areas of South Africa and show how a failure to adequately maintain catchment areas free of invasive alien plants may have contributed to the severity of the drought which affected Cape Town between 2015 and 2018. The study further examines what the likely benefits are for increased investments in the removal of invasive alien plants as currently supported by the Greater Cape Town Water Fund and how this may provide benefits under climate change.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration