TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF FAMINE WEED, PARTHENIUM HYSTEROPHORUS, IN PROTECTED AREAS
Ian Rushworth, Llewellyn Foxcroft and Carl Myhill
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South African National Parks (SANParks), Kruger National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park

 

Abstract
Famine weed, Parthenium hysterophorus, represents a significant direct threat to protected areas in eastern South Africa through impacts on biodiversity, ecological carrying capacity, staff and visitor health, and the overall tourism experience. In areas, indirect impacts may result from increased rural poverty caused by reduced agricultural potential and reduced grazing capacity of communal rangelands, both of which will increase pressure for access to resources within protected areas. As the invasion process is relatively recent the possibility of successful management, and even in some cases localized eradication, is high, but the need for action is urgent to get this species under any level of control. As such, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South African National Parks (Kruger National Park) and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority are developing strategies to manage Famine Weed in their protected areas. Management targets for each protected area have been set, and a strategy to achieve these is being developed. The fundamental pillars of the protected area strategy include: (1) managing vectors of spread and invasion pathways so as to minimise the introduction of seed into the protected areas, (2) early detection and rapid response to the establishment of plants, (3) good planning and implementation of best practice to minimise opportunities for establishment, maximise resilience of the habitats, and maximise efficacy of any response measures, (4) adopting an integrated control approach that incorporates buffer zones and maximises the benefits of biological control, (5) ensuring effective coordination and partnerships with all role players, and (6) increased public and staff awareness of the plant and the threat that it poses. Changes to management and tourism operations are necessary, some of which are relatively inexpensive and/or require minor changes to standard operating procedures; however, other changes will require significant resource allocation. In particular, game capture operations and the role of alien plant contractors in dispersing seeds require urgent attention. Informal and systematic monitoring programmes are being put in place to enable detection of changes to distribution and abundance patterns, providing information that can be rapidly assimilated into the control programmes, and which will allow for evaluation of success of the strategy. A huge amount of effort and resources are currently being directed towards rhino security (to the detriment of many other biological monitoring and conservation programmes); if famine weed is not high on the conservation agenda then rhinos will be lost anyway.

 

Presentation Topic

TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF FAMINE WEED, PARTHENIUM HYSTEROPHORUS, IN PROTECTED AREAS

Contact Mr Rushworth:
EmailĀ Ian Rushworth