Biological invasions in South African National Parks
van Wilgen, N.J.
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Objectives: A core objective in South African National Parks (SANParks) is biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of functional ecosystems, which is compromised by alien species invasions. The 2016 Alien and Invasive Species regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA) requires landowners to develop management plans for alien and invasive species, as well as report on the status and efficacy of control. Method: To compile the species list, we started with the 2011 SANParks alien species list. Name changes were updated and SANParks ecologists and park managers contacted to verify the species lists and add new records. Species reported by external experts were added in the same manner. The management programme costs and species controlled per park per year were extracted from SANParks’ Working for Water programme database. Results: SANParks has listed 869 alien and extra-limital species, including 752 plants and 117 animals, increasing from 781 alien species in 2011. About R 590 million has been spent by the Working for Water/Biodiversity Social Programmes since 2000/2001. Of the species recorded, 263 are listed by NEM:BA, including 12 Category 1a species, 184 Category 1b species, 28 Category 2 species and 39 Category 3 species. Conclusion: While large clearing programmes have been maintained since at least 1998, improving prioritisation is necessary. We provide a short synopsis of (1) what alien species are present in SANParks, (2) the species and parks that management has focused on, (3) the implications of the NEM:BA Invasive Alien Species Regulations and (4) future developments in monitoring.