The Working for Water Programme

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Christo Marais

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South Africa’s national Working for Water (WfW) programme began in October 1995 and has grown to be country’s biggest conservation programme. It has spawned many associated programmes, including the Working on Fire, Working for Wetlands, Working for Ecosystems and the Value-Added Industries programmes. A primary focus is on the labour-intensive control of invasive plants. WfW has provided work opportunities for over 50,000 participants per annum and has cleared over 3,2 million hectares of land (=50% of Ireland), with almost 10 million hectares of further follow-up work. The programme has strengthened with the promulgation of the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations. The full implementation of bio-security legislation will be critical to achieving the prevention, control and restoration for biological invasions. Biological control is playing an increasing role. We are intensifying a search-and-destroy capacity for emerging invasive species. Strides are also being made in our focus on controlling invasive plants in mountainous and riparian areas, because of their impacts on ecosystem services. We are escalating our use of fire as a measure of control.  Incentivising good land-use practices is increasing. There is a major focus on value-added industries, using invasive biomass to make products useful to Government (notably fire-proof buildings). This is set to radically change the efficacy of our programme. There are also foci on other taxa, such as the polyphagous shot-hole borer, the Indian house crow, mice on Marion Island, and other destructive invasive species. Bureaucratic procedures have inhibited the programme, and we are looking at an optimized institutional arrangement.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration