Fight against alien vegetation needs your help

Berta van Rooyen, Tokai

When pine plantations began in 1884, alien acacia trees were also planted for nutrients and shade. The aliens were later removed by convict labourers when the pine plants were strong enough to survive. Eucalyptus trees were planted on the edges to serve as fire-belts.

After their harvesting, gum trees were left to regrow.

Alien infestation today is a direct consequence of early forestry with seed banks collecting for more than 100 years.

Regardless of the impact of Working for Water (W4W) teams and biological control, fighting the infestation needs your help.

Volunteer groups, often retired people from outside Tokai, work in Upper Tokai Park once a month, weekly at Vlakkenberg and weekly in the Tokai Arboretum.

Regular notices of hacking sessions in newspapers and on several Facebook sites seem fruitless.

Tiny aliens get pulled by hand, but juveniles require tools to remove, thus forcing most volunteers to buy poppers.

Removal is preferable to herbicides.

A new popper costs about R2 000 which not all can afford.

Donation of poppers to the local groups would really help and could accommodate more people.

Tokai Park is our heritage and pride and the natural history spans ages.

Cultural impact from the San, Khoi and colonials using the land makes Tokai Park a model heritage park.

This heritage belongs to the people of South Africa, but as neighbours to the park, we must act. The time is past to shift blame and responsibility on SANParks: we are no longer colonists, but users, participants and co-caretakers.

A volunteer session asks two hours per week or month of your time – compare it to the bending/cutting/and painting herbicides for eight hours per day by the W4W people.

The longer we wait, the worse the infestation.

Please come and work with the official friends group of
Tokai Park. Put the differences aside. We all have one rapidly growing and spreading enemy: invasive
plants.

For further details, contact Berta van Rooyen at 072 474 0608.