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Project deals with invasive plants

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. –

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