Kruger Scientist Gets on Top of Alien Plant Invasions Down Under

By Michele Hofmeyr and Llewellyn Foxcroft

Alien invasive species are causing a headache for conservation managers around the world. Alien species are the cause of numerous problems for biodiversity, from clogging up water-ways to becoming a fire hazard and are even a problem closer to home in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

Llewellyn Foxcroft represented Sanparks scientific services at the ninth ecology and management of alien plant invasions (Emapi) conference,which was held in Perth, Australia from September 17 to 21, 2007. Llewellyn, who is the Sanparks scientist for invasion ecology, talked to the delegates about the patterns of alien plant invasions in Kruger.

“We do have alien invasive species in the Kruger Park, and it is valuable for us to keep up to date with international approaches to solving these problems, which also affect protected areas in other countries.

Meeting with delegates from other countries is an opportunity to hear of innovative ideas for controlling infestations of alien species, but we are particularly interested in learning how other organisations are looking at management and policy development of alien species invasions” says Llewellyn.

The aim of the conference was to showcase the latest research on invasive plants, particularly their impact on biodiversity. The conference also provided information on all the tools that can be used to manage invasive plants, including biological control, herbicides and legislation.

According to Llewellyn, the conference proved to be extremely useful and well supported, covering very relevant topics such as ecological, biological and bio-geographical studies on invasive plants; the development of varied activities focussed on preventing of new alien plant invasions and management of existing problem plants and ideas on public education and information.

“I am looking forward to further collaboration with international scientists from the Czech Republic and the USA, who are interested in conducting research here in the Kruger Park” says Llewellyn.

“At Sanparks we have a commitment to developing management plans and eradication techniques to control existing alien species infestations and preventing the further spread of these undesirable species” he concluded. South Africa will host the tenth Emapi conference, which will be held at the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University.



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