Biodiversity is the link between all organisms on earth, binding all into interdependent ecosystems.

Healthy eco-systems underpin the health of the planet and have a direct impact on all our lives. We rely on biodiversity for everything – from the air we breathe to the water we drink and the food we eat.

Worldwide, invasive alien plants have been identified, after climate change, as the second greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet.

So what is an alien invasive plant?

An alien plant is one that has been imported from across our borders and planted into an environment where living conditions are extremely favourable, allowing them to vigorously spread beyond gardens, farms and plantations.

Natural South African flora is one of the most invaded in the world with hundreds of these invasive plants replacing our indigenous vegetation at an alarming rate.

Alien invasives threaten South Africa’sland resources. Approximately 20 million hectares (17%) at different densities of our agricultural land has been invaded resulting in loss of arable land, soil erosion and siltation of dams.

It’s estimated that nationwide invading plants use 3.3 billion cubic meters ofwater per year beyond what native plants would require. If we do not act our catchment areas will become fully invaded, spelling disaster in an already water-stressed country.

Normal grassland fires generate heat of between 200-5 000 kW/m2. Invasives can generate heat of up to 50 000 kW/m2. This results in physical damage to the soil and contributes to flooding, soil erosion and the siltation of dams and rivers.

How can you, as an individual, help alleviate the pressures on some of the earth’s eco-systems? You can help by getting rid of alien invasive plants in your immediate environment. The disruption caused to eco-systems by these plants has grown beyond the capacity of any single government agency to control or rectify. It is hoped, that by encouraging all citizens, young and old, to take personal responsibility for their environment, they will actively eradicate these plants from their gardens and the wild.

If only 10% of the citizens of South Africa uproot one alien plant a month it would mean 7 200 000 fewer alien plants in our environment every year.

The recovery of our land is everyone’s business!