Alien Myrtle along the R44 near Pringle Bay on 28 July 2015

Fighting invasive alien plants

Alien infestation in the Kleinmond coastal and mountain nature reserve

Paul Coetzee of the Kleinmond Nature Conservation Society gave us the following report:

Driving on the R44 from Pringle Bay to Kleinmond through to the junction with the R43 to Hermanus the extent of alien infestation by Australian myrtle, long leaf wattle, black wattle, Australian albizia and spider gums is clearly visible, so much so that in some places you might as well be driving on a road in Southern Australia. This is a familiar sight in large parts of the Kogelberg Biosphere. Photos recently taken along the R44 illustrate the point.

Most of this infestation is on private land and there is not much that can be done without the cooperation of the landowners. In the Kleinmond municipal area, specifically in the Kleinmond Coastal and Mountain Reserve, the situation is fortunately different and control of alien invasive plants can be actively pursued.

Kleinmond Nature Conservation Society (KNCS), which was established in 1976, makes an important contribution in this regard. KNCS facilitated the removal of invasive plants in the Kleinmond Nature Reserve since 1978 when thousands of pine trees and other alien plants were removed form the area around the Palmiet River and Fairy Glen subsequent to the inclusion of this area into the Kleinmond Coastal Reserve in 1979. Ten years later during which time alien cleaning continued, the shale bank beyond Fairy Glen was included in the Coastal Reserve which was then renamed the Kleinmond Coastal and Mountain Reserve.

In the 80’s in a private initiative, Peter Slingsby and co-workers removed black wattle and other alien plants from the Fairy Glen recreational area and replaced them with indigenous trees. The Kleinmond Hack Group was officially formed in 1994 as an interest group of the Kleinmond Nature Conservation Society. Over many years members voluntarily spent time and effort to ensure a relatively invader-free Kleinmond Mountain and Coastal Reserve for everyone to enjoy.

Currently the 20 odd members of the Hack Group participate in the “official” hack session every third Tuesday of the month while some enthusiasts on an ad hoc basis also combat aliens in the less accessible kloofs and mountain slopes. One of the recent successes of the hackers is the control of silky hakea that flourished on the lower slopes of Sandown Peak after the big mountain fire of 2011.

Practically all of the top ten alien invasive trees listed for the Western Cape occur in the coastal strip from Pringle Bay to Hermanus – 9 of the 10 come from Southern Australia: rooikrans (Acacia cyclops), black wattle (Acacia mearnsii), Port Jackson (Acacia saligna), silky hakea (H. sericea), long leaf wattle (Acacia longifolia), Australian albizia (Paraserianthes lophantha), Australian myrtle (Leptospermum laevigatum), spider gum (Eucalyptus conferruminata), Australian blackwood wattle (Acacia melanoxylon) and cluster pine (Pinus pinaster), the only non-Australian tree in this list.

Most of the acacia species were imported to the Cape along with myrtle from the mid 1800’s to stabilise drift sand and dunes and as wind breaks. Today they invade the coastal areas from Port Nolloth on the west coast to Port Elizabeth on the east coast. In Kleinmond the Hack Group manage to contain the spread of these invasive alien plants within the Kleinmond Coastal and Mountain Reserve through systematic hacking with hand saws, poppers and chain saws when necessary. For further information contact the current convenor of the Kleinmond Hack Group, Robbie Hill at

Thank you, Paul, for this interesting report. Please support the Kleinmond Hack Group actively as well as the other hack groups working in our area.

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  Vol 2, Issue 3 - September 2015
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