Botanist Michele Hofmeyr and others are advising us as to what area-appropriate species to replant.
Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Forest Biodiversity Research Unit, School of Life Sciences are experimenting with alternative alien clearing methods at Ferncliffe Nature Reserve. For bugweed, a particular scourge, it appears that thinning the infestation (to allow the remaining canopy to protect any emerging indigenous trees) may be more effective than clear-cutting. Thinned bugweed provides a sheltering canopy below which indigenous trees can re-establish themselves – unlike sun-baked earth, or within the scrum of creepers and vegetation that swamps disturbed earth. Bugweed also doesn’t live very long, and indigenous forest trees will overtake them within 20-odd years. This theory, first suggested by respected forest ecologist Coert Geldenhuys, is now being tested in a long-term study in the Reserve.
We hand-pull or dig up smaller plants wherever possible, and ringbark larger trees, with continuous follow-up to strip new growth.
Different plants require different clearing methods (just as plants in different biomes may require different techniques). Many creeper and rhizome species require complete removal of the roots and tubers. We will adjust methods to species, and use advice and proven best practice methods – but remain open to new rewilding techniques and methodology.
We avoid chemicals. If forced to, we’ll use herbicides recommended by environmental scientists and local conservation organisations.