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Environmental Law 5 - Garden Questions

  • What plants may I grow in my garden?
  • How can I address the eradication of the invasive species on my property?

In terms of weeds and invader plants (both exotic and indigenous), such plants have been identified in Regulations pertaining to the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (CARA) (1985 & 2001) and were assigned categories (1 – 3) based on their problem and management status. Invasive alien plants have a pronounced impact on our natural heritage as they alter landscapes, destroy indigenous vegetation, impact ecological functioning and reduce productivity. It is important that every land owner and resident take responsibility in this regard and contribute where they can to invasive alien plant eradication.

  • Generally, all Category 1 to 3 plants may not occur on any land or inland water surface other than in strictly controlled areas such as biological control reserves or other demarcated areas for which permission is obtained by the Minister’s representative. A “biological control reserve” means an area used for the breeding of biological control agents by a biological control expert.
  • The following are some of the Category 1 plants:

    Mauritius Thorn, Canna indica, Balloon Vine, Inkberry, Chromoleana, Scotch Thistle, Pampas Grass, Water Hyacinth, Lantana, Oleander, most Cacti, Guava, American Bramble, Sesbania, Brazilian Pepper Tree, and Bugweed.
  • The following are some of the Category 2 plants:

    Silver Wattle, Black Wattle, Australian Blackwood, Port Jackson Willow, Most Eucalyptus species, Leucaena, most Pine species, a number of Poplars, and Weeping Willow.
  • The following are some of the Category 3 plants:

    Loquat, Morning Glory, Jacaranda, Privet, Syringa, Mulberry, Abyssinian, Firethorn, Peanut Butter Cassia, and Chinese Tamarisk.

No person is permitted to acquire propagating material of category 1 plants or any category 1 plants. No person is permitted to (except in or for purposes of a biological control reserve) establish, plant, maintain, multiply or propagate category 1, 2 and 3 plants. Most of the commercial timber plantations contain Category 2 plants.

Lawful timber plantations are demarcated areas and therefore are permitted to comprise some of these invader plants. However, any timber species outside of plantations, termed “scrub timber”, is unlawful in terms of CARA. No land user is permitted to allow weed and invading species to occur within 30 meters of the 1:50 year flood line of a river, stream, spring, natural channel in which water flows regularly or intermittently, lake, dam or wetland. For example, any Wattle, Pine or Gum trees found outside of managed plantations (grown for commercial reasons) or found within close proximity to a stream are unlawful. In terms of this legislation, gardens and wind breaks comprising these species are also unlawful.

All reasonable steps must be taken by all land users to curtail the spreading of weeds and invader plants outside of demarcated areas. CARA furthermore specifies how one may control the spread of these species and what methods to employ. Where resources are not available to a specific land user, one may motivate to government for subsidy to assist in the eradication of these problem plants (the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should be consulted in this regard). Where reasonable steps to curtail the spread of these plants are not taken a directive can be served on a land user in transgression of CARA, followed by legal action. Notwithstanding the legal issue, and the lack of compliance monitoring by government departments, it should be every land user’s ambition to clean up his or her property to help preserve our country’s natural assets.

Invasive plants and commercial timber plantations are almost synonymous according to some sources. Whilst contributing significantly to the national economy, commercial timber plantations can be an environmental hazard if mismanaged. This issue will be dealt with in greater detail in the next issue.

The author will not be held responsible for misinterpretation of the law, and strongly recommends that readers consult their local DAEA branch for clarification.

  1. Afzelia Environmental Consultants cc
  2. Tel: +27(0) 31 303 2835
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  Tel: +27 (31) 303 2835
  Fax: +27 (86) 692 2547
  Map »
  Tel: +27 (31) 303 2835
  Fax: +27 (86) 692 2547
  Map »