3 Ways that alien plants impact the land around them
Alien plants (or invasive species) refer to plant life that does not grow naturally in a local habitat. These plants may be introduced to a new habitat through floods and landslides that can carry their seeds to new locations, through trade and commerce, as well as being brought in on equipment that was used elsewhere.
Alien plants have a direct impact on the ecosystems to which they are introduced. Here are three ways that they can impact their surroundings:
- Competing with local plants: Alien species often compete with local plants to get nutrients from the soil. They can overcrowd and overpower local species, starving them of important nutrients that help them to grow. This results in the demise of several local plant species which are important in maintaining the balance of their local ecosystems.
- Increased economic costs: The eradication and management of invasive species may end up costing companies and governments a lot of money as they cannot be left to inhabit a land that they are destroying. Alien plants also impact farmers as they may starve the crops of nutrients reducing crop outputs and compromising farmers livelihoods.
- Soil erosion: Due to alien species killing the plant life around them, they remove vital vegetation that covers the land. When the vegetation dies, it exposes the soil underneath which can be blown away by wind and washed away by rain. This causes soil erosion, and over time more land starts to become bare. This can in turn result in more flooding and silting of dams.
In Lesotho, there are many types of alien species. From fine-leafed felecia, “sehalahala” to black alder, they cause problems to the habitats in which they are introduced. Due to this, many of our precious rangelands, wetlands and grasslands are being destroyed. Over time, the erosion caused by this can create massive dongas where nothing grows and it can lead to more severe flooding as well as impacting our rivers and dams by filling them with soil.
This is why ReNOKA encourages members of local communities to manage and eradicate various species of alien plants. Our Community Watershed Teams often work on removing invasive species, as these threaten our land and water as they know that the prosperity of their community depends on the actions that they undertake.
If you want to know more about how to get involved with ReNOKA to clear up alien species in local communities, click here: https://renoka.org/get-involved/
ReNOKA (‘we are a river’) is a national programme and citizen movement for the restoration of land and water in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu basin. Support for ReNOKA is provided through a partnership between the Government of Lesotho, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The EU and BMZ contributions are implemented through a technical assistance project “Support to Integrated Catchment Management in Lesotho” by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
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National ICM Coordinator, ICM Coordination Unit
GIZ Programme Manager, Support to Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in Lesotho
‘This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Integrated Catchment Management unit and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’