CORRESPONDENCE

South Africa beats back invasive plants

Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.
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Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

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Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

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Increased investment in biological control is already helping to counter the negative impacts of invasive species on South Africa’s rich biodiversity and ecological infrastructure (see Nature 563, 164–165; 2018). Expertise and experience are prevailing on several battlefronts to drive invasive plants back to manageable levels.

The report from the South African National Biodiversity Institute in Pretoria offers insight into the success of biological-control strategies (see go.nature.com/2vt7smh). Fifteen invasive-plant species or taxa are now completely controlled and 19 are substantially under control. Although this is fewer than 10% of the 382 listed invasive plants, those targeted are among the most environmentally damaging species, including cacti and water weeds (see, for example, H. Kaplan et al. Bothalia-African Biodivers. Conserv. 47, a2149; 2017). Examples of such tactics include the release of insect agents that target seed production in invasive plants (see F. A. C. Impson et al. Afr. Entomol. 19, 186–208; 2011).

The government has committed 68 million rand (US$4.7 million) over 3 years to South Africa’s Centre for Biological Control in Grahamstown, which underscores the importance it attaches to safeguarding biodiversity and water resources against invasive species.

Nature 565, 161 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00037-9

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