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Media Statement

Date: Thursday, 10 October 2019
No Embargo

City Parks and Zoo strikes back on invasive alien species


They come in soft pinks, bright yellows and fill your garden with the most promising display of beauty and pride. But don’t be fooled, invasive alien species are deadly and extremely dangerous to our natural ecosystems, destroying everything in their way.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), the leaders in greening and conservation in the City of Johannesburg launched its “Alien Invasive Campaign” in October 2015 and it has since gained momentum in raising awareness with residents and businesses alike. National Invasive Species Week is observed annually from 7 to 13 October.

JCPZ in partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Working for Water (WFW) City of Joburg’s Environment Infrastructure Services Department (EISD), South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), Rand Water (RW) and the Department of Agriculture are collectively working towards eradicating the scourge of invasive species.

Alien invasive species could be those beautiful plants you spot in your gardens or along roads but which don’t belong in a particular area, environment or country. They have adverse effects on our biodiversity, causing the decline and ultimate eradication of native plants through their fight for survival.

Alien species transmit fatal pathogens which are just as harmful to humans. The control of these alien invasive species comes at huge costs to the City’s coffers, which in turn has a ripple effect on its mandate for fast and efficient service delivery.

The identification of invasive alien plants is vital in the planning process of eradicating these plants which are sometimes misidentified. It is recommended that residents contact JCPZ’s conservationists with a description and photographs of the suspected invasive plants.

Here are the top 10 categories of alien plants to look out for if you suspect alien invasive plants either in your garden or in your area:

Top 10 Category 1 alien plant species:

Acacia mearnsii, dealbata and decurrens (Wattle)


 Arundo donax (Giant Spanish reed)


Campuloclinium macrocephalum (Pompom weed)


Eucalyptus (Gum trees)


Cotoneaster francheti (Cotoneasters)


Populus x canescens and alba (Grey and white poplars)


Populus x canescens and alba (Grey and white poplars)


Solanum mauritianum (Bugweed)


Lantana camara (Tickberry)


Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood)



Alien invasive plants commonly have the following characteristics: rapid growth, excessive flowering and produce a lot of seed, they grow in a wide range of habitats and they out compete the indigenous vegetation in areas such as riverbanks, they compete for sunlight, oxygen and minerals from the soil. Invasive species are resistant to grazing as well as pests and diseases and multiply due to the absence of their natural enemies or predators.

Control Methods:

Control methods will differ depending on the class of a particular plant, its growth form, phase of a plant, etc. Typically, the following methods can be used:

  • mechanical - use of machinery e.g. chainsaws or brush cutters
  • chemical control - use of environmentally friendly herbicides or pesticides
  • biological control - the use of natural enemies of the plant. Consultation with relevant authorities will be required for this exercise
  • manual control - the physical removal of plants e.g. hand pulling. It should be noted that for large and highly infested areas, it is recommended that a combination of the methods be used.

Disposal of I.A.P.

During this process, it is imperative to avoid the spread of the seeds and it is recommended that residents contact JCPZ Conservation Department for assistance.

  • Burning on site – While this method is recommended, there are risk facts and threats to property and the environment.
  • Chipping and composting - This method is very environmentally friendly and is not recommended for material that contains seeds as this could lead to further spread of the plant.
  • Proper disposal at a registered site. Residents are advised to contact JCPZ on 011 791 1117 for information on disposal sites.

Joburg’s tree canopy is aging with many trees having reached their full life expectancy. The Polyphagus Shot Hole Borer attack on trees in Johannesburg has been a challenge for the city but the good news is that many trees have shown signs of recovery with sprouting buds and leaves. City Parks and Zoo has saved hundreds of trees infected by the PSHB and encourage communities to continues planting indigenous trees to restore our green canopy which has become more prone to opportunistic diseases and invasive species. The National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act listed 559 species as invasive and a further 560 species as prohibited, meaning that these may not be introduced in South Africa.

“Our greatest challenge is the eradication of the Bugweed, Black Wattle, Lantana and Castor Oil. We can all stop the spread of these species by destroying them in our gardens,” stated Landiwe Mashige, Manager for Integrated Catchment Management at JCPZ.

Mega blitz operations have been put in place for the month of October where JCPZ staff, EPWP workers, staff from WFW, community volunteers and other stakeholders, have identified areas which will be cleared of invasive species. Residents may report any invasive species in their areas, to or register their enquiries on the Joburg Connect Call Centre on 011 375 5555.


Issued by

Councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development

Media Enquiries

Noeleen Mattera Stakeholder, PR & Media Relations

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

T: 011 712 6722 / 011 712 6617


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