aliens environment sustainability

Port St. Johns area receives R2.7m for invasive clearing

The Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, celebrated World Oceans Day in Port St. Johns, Eastern Cape on Monday 10 June 2013. At the celebrations, she launched the National Estuarine Management Protocol which aims to protect and preserve the environmental integrity of South Africa’s estuarine ecosystems.

“Estuaries form a key connection between life in the ocean and life on land. This is the reason we have decided to launch the National Estuarine Management Protocol on World Oceans Day,” explained the Deputy Minister. The protocol was developed in line with the requirements in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill and gives guidelines on how estuaries should be managed in a co-ordinated and efficient manner through the development of individual estuarine management plans.

Invasive plant clearing

The Deputy Minister also highlighted the problems of invasive plants in the Port St. Johns area. Port St. Johns falls in a high rainfall area, thus making it conducive for many weeds to thrive. Various types of invasives, ranging from bugweed (Solanum mauritianum), lantana (Lantana camara), inkberry (Cestrum laevigatum), triffid weed (Chromolaena odorata), Barbados gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata) and morning glory (Ipomea) are established in the area. As part of her department’s commitment to job creation, Port St. Johns was allocated a budget of R2,07 million and employment will be divided into three main categories: nurseries, forest restoration and invasive alien vegetation clearing. The invasive species clearing is expected to employ 45 people.


Working for the Coast

The Deputy Minister also highlighted that R12 million has been allocated for Working for the Coast projects and will be implemented from July in three municipalities, namely King Sabatha Dalindyebo, Nyandeni and Port St. Johns. This project will cover the upgrading of ablution facilities, cleaning of beaches, development of coastal management programmes and the establishment of lifeguard stands and boardwalks.

Shark attacks

During her speech, the Deputy Minister also highlighted her concern over the spate of fatal shark attacks at Port St. Johns, stating that it is now the world’s number one fatal shark attack spot, followed by Western Australia and Fish Hoek. She said her department was working with scientists to find solutions to the problem and to implement measures to make the beach safer for tourists and residents.

source: Invasive Species SA

aliens water

Robotic Jellyfish

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers have unveiled a life-like, autonomous robotic jellyfish the size and weight of a grown man, 5 foot 7 inches in length and weighing 170 pounds, as part of a U.S. Navy-funded project.

The prototype robot, nicknamed Cyro, is a larger model of a robotic jellyfish the same team – headed by Shashank Priya of Blacksburg, Va., and professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech – unveiled in 2012. The earlier robot, dubbed RoboJelly, is roughly the size of a man’s hand, and typical of jellyfish found along beaches.

aliens environment recycling tree

18 Eco-Furniture Factories to be established!

this is soooo awesome! 😀 mold-d

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is tackling the critical challenge of natural resource management, environmental protection and infrastructure through Environmental Programmes (EP). Over the past decade, EP’s Working for Water programme has piloted value-added industry projects in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Invasive Alien Species Programme (KZN IASP).  These initiatives have shown the viability of the approach of utilizing invasive alien biomass to create jobs, in making value-added products relevant to Government’s needs and, thereby, reducing the cost of clearing the invasive plants.

eco furn

In 2004, a value-added industry factory in KZN was established after exposure to the exploitation of the poor by some in the funeral industry, at the time of bereavement.  The concept of making “Eco-Coffins” from the invasive wood won the 2005 World Bank’s Development Marketplace prize for innovation, and the approximately R1 million grant was used to buy the necessary machinery.

The Eco-Coffins pilot project initially provided work for 89 people trained in woodwork and other relevant skills. Since then, coffins have been produced for a fraction of what people are being asked to pay for basic coffins from commercial funeral houses.

Establishing 18 Eco-Furniture Factories in 2013

The purpose of the project is to establish viable eco-furniture factories which will produce products needed by Government and marginalised communities, using wood harvested from invasive alien plants, creating jobs for approximately one hundred and sixty workers per factory, working at competitive EPWP rates and producing high-quality products.

  • 18 Value-added industry Eco-Furniture Factories will be established across the country by Environmental Programmes.  Approximately R383 million shall be invested in the project over a 3-year period.
  • Each factory will make products that help to address the needs of South Africa, with an initial focus on school desks, benches, eco-coffins and other furniture.
  • The products will be made from wood from invasive alien plants cleared as part of Government’s drive to restore proper ecosystem functionality.
  • Approximately 160 jobs will be created per factory, when fully operational, within the framework of the Expanded Public Works Programme, in this process.
  • These jobs will focus on the marginalized, in terms of race, gender, disability and age.
  • The intention is to sell eco-products to non-government organisations, faith-based organisations, government departments and schools across the country to meet their needs.
  • The factories are to be situated in areas where suitable stands of accessible and utilizable invasive alien plant biomass are available.


There is an estimated shortage of 6million school desks in the South African educational system.  High-quality, durable, steel-framed desks with wooden seats and tops (made from invasive alien wood) are planned to be manufactured at affordable and competitive prices.

Eco-Desks include the full costs of harvesting the wood and it is envisaged that the cost would be less than R500 per desk. It is also hoped that damaged steel desks could be collected from schools and refitted with new tops and new seats thus ensuring further efficiencies through recycling.

The collection of damaged desks – and recycling/ renovating them in Eco-Furniture Factories – is expected to make up a large percentage of the production going through the factories in the early stages of the venture.  Any damaged Eco-Desks can be collected from schools within an 80km radius of each Eco-Furniture Factory.

It is envisaged that Eco-Desk production units will be set up across the country, where invasive alien timber is accessible, to meet the backlog and future needs for school desks, including the repair of desks.  The relevance of setting up the Eco-Desks factories across the country is to reduce the transportation costs, even allowing for the fact that the desks are produced in kit form, and then assembled at the receiving schools.

The first five of eighteen factories are either in production or gearing up for imminent production:

  • Durban
  • Farley (Knysna area)
  • Heidelberg
  • Graskop, Mpumalanga
  • Makhado, Limpopo


Several simple sizes and designs of Eco-Coffins have been created for this initiative. Eco-Coffins will be sold and distributed to non-government charity organisations and faith-based initiatives involved in social responsibility programmes.

Originally posted HERE.

aliens environment

Beautiful but dangerous… Photos needed!

STS - 2013a

Plans are afoot for a new set of ‘Beautiful but dangerous’ posters that will include more information and additional invasive alien plant
species. Together with eThekwini Municipality, we have hit a problem – all of the original photos were from negatives! If you are willing to let us have your invasive alien plant photos, we can get going on this so much faster. The list is as follow:

Acacia melanoxylon
Achryranthes aspera
Arundo donax
Bauhinia variegata
Tradescantia fluminensis
Triplaris americana
Acacia saligna
Pennisetum clandestinum
Pueraria montana var. lobata
Sagittaria platyphylla (leaf)
Schefflera elegantissima
Senna septemtrionalis
Syzygium jambos

Would like:
Melia azedarach
Morus alba
Populus x canescens
Tecoma stans
Ligustrum lucidum
Azolla filiculoides

Please send all photos with a description of the plant to: and to so we can post them on the blog (🙂 mol-d)

Jean Rodel

Project Manager
WESSA Stop the Spread


aliens environment recycling tree

Invasive trees turned into school desks…

Invasive red river gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) have been turned into useful school desks. 250 desks were recently handed over to the Boitumelo Secondary School near Ficksburg in the Free State in a ceremony attended by Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs, which took place on 23 January 2013. During July 2012, the Deputy Minister commissioned a needs assessment at the school, which clearly indicated a dire need for school desks. School principle, Elliot Mhlophe, said pupils had been struggling because of furniture shortages.

The desks are made from biomass taken from cleared invasive alien plants and manufactured at the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for Water Eco Furniture factory, situated in KwaZulu-Natal. The Working for Water programme has piloted value-added industry options, in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Invasive Species Programme (KZN IASP). These initiatives have shown the viability of utilising invasive alien biomass to create jobs, in making value-added products relevant to the government’s needs, and at the same time, reducing the cost of clearing these invasive plants. School desks have become a major focus of these projects and are being manufactured for less than half of what schools are currently paying for chipboard desks. The biomass manufactured desks are made from solid wood and are durable and of a high quality. At R420 per desk, these costs of the eco-desks include the full cost of harvesting the timber.

Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, addresses Boitumelo High School.
Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, addresses Boitumelo High School.

source: Invasive Species South Africa