Alien Invasive Plant Species

Posted on 15 Jun 2020

Quite often we hear the phrase “alien invasive species” or “alien species”, however do we know what this means and how to handle these species if found on our property?


To assist with this, the following defines the two most common phrases:

  • Alien species: A species that is not indigenous or is found outside of its normal distribution range.
  • Alien invasive species: Plants or animals that are introduced by man, accidentally or intentionally, outside of their natural geographic range into an area where they are not naturally present. They are often introduced as a result of the globalisation of economies, for instance by ships, shipment of wood products infested with insects, or the transport of ornamental plants that then establish themselves into the wild and spread in a manner that modifies ecosystems, habitats or species and is difficult to control.


Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPs) are therefore plants that are not indigenous and are introduced to a region and are able to reproduce and spread without any assistance.  


What should landowners do if they are aware of these plants on their property?


According to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEM:BA), Section 75 states that the listed plants (as indicated in the updated NEM:BA Alien and Invasive Species List of 2016),  should be controlled and eradicated while causing the least harm to biodiversity and damage to the environment. Additionally, control and management programmes must be implemented to prevent, control or eradicate invasive species.


The Alien and Invasive Species Regulations (2014) and the updated NEM:BA Alien and Invasive Species List (2016), categorise problem plant species and define what should be done with them according to the level of threat. The list itself identifies 379 plant species that are legally declared invasive species that have been assigned to one of three categories:

  • Category 1a – Invasive species requiring compulsory control. Any specimens of Category 1a listed species need, by law, to be eradicated from the environment. No permits will be issued.
  • Category 1b – Invasive species requiring compulsory control as part of an invasive species control programme. Remove and destroy. These plants are deemed to have a high invasive potential. No permits will be issued.
  • Category 2 – Invasive species regulated by area. A demarcation permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept as a gift any plants listed as Category 2 plants. No permits will be issued for Category 2 plants to exist in riparian zones.
  • Category 3 – Invasive species regulated by activity. An individual plant permit is required to undertake any of the following restricted activities (import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept as a gift) involving a Category 3 species. No permits will be issued for Category 3 plants to exist in riparian zones.


According to Regulation 2, should Category 1a plants be found on your property the following must be done:

  1. Comply with section 73(2) of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004) –
  • Stating that the landowner must notify the competent authority in writing of the species occurring on the land;
  • Take steps to prevent or minimise harm to the biodiversity; and
  • Ensure that controlling and eradicating the alien species takes place while ensuring it is kept from spreading.
    1. Immediately take steps to combat or eradicate listed invasive species in compliance with sections 75(1), (2) and (3) of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004); and
    2. Allow an authorised official from the Department to enter onto land to monitor, assist with or implement the combatting or eradication of the listed invasive species.

According to Regulation 3, should Category 1b plants be found on your property the following must be done:

  1. The responsible person must control the listed species in compliance with sections 75(1), (2) and (3) of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004).
  2. A person contemplated in sub-regulation (2) must allow an authorised official from the Department to enter onto the land to monitor, assist with or implement the control of the listed invasive species, or compliance with the Invasive Species Management Programme contemplated in section 75(4) of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004).

According to Regulation 4, should Category 2 plants be found on your property the following must be done:

  1. Unless otherwise indicated in the Alien and Invasive Species List of 2016 (No. R864) or the permit obtained, no person may carry out a restricted activity (selling, planting, etc as listed) without a permit.
  2. A landowner on whose land a Category 2 Listed Invasive Species occurs or person in possession of a permit, must ensure that the specimens of the species do not spread outside of the land or the area specified in the Notice (NEM:BA, N. R864) or permit.
  3. Unless otherwise specified in the Notice, any species listed as a Category 2 outside the specified area in sub-regulation (1), referencing the area stipulated in the permit obtained for the restricted activity or indicated in the Notice (NEM:BA, N. R864), must be considered to be a Category 1b and must be managed according to Regulation 3.
  4. Notwithstanding the specific exemptions relating to existing plantations in respect of Listed Invasive Plant Species published in Government Gazette No. 37886, Notice 599 of 1 August 2014 (as amended), any person or organ of state must ensure that the specimens of such Listed Invasive Plant Species do not spread outside of the land over which they have control.

Lastly, should Category 3 plants be found on your property the following must be done:

  1. Category 3 Listed Invasive Species are species that are listed by notice in terms of section 70(1)(a) of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004)  as species which are subject to exemptions in terms of section 71(3) and prohibitions in terms of section 71A of the NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2004), as specified in the Notice (NEM:BA, N. R864).
  2. Any plant species identified as a Category 3 that occurs in riparian areas, must be considered a Category 1b Listed Invasive Species and must be managed according to regulation 3.


For any of the categories of invasive species, if an Invasive Species Management Programme has been developed in terms of section 75(4) of the (NEM:BA, N. R864), a person must comply with the regulations for each category, adhering to the requirements in accordance with such programme. Therefore, it is important to keep our indigenous plant species safe through correct and good management!


In terms of the above mentioned Environmental Assurance (ENVASS) (Pty) Ltd. would like to take this opportunity to introduce our environmental services that we offer our clients throughout Southern Africa for your consideration as we offer cost-effective quality services to our clients through highly qualified and competent staff. We are always willing to accept new challenges and compose competitive quotes for environmental specialist work required.


ENVASS is more than able to conduct site visits, identification, listing confirmation and the overall control and management programmes for the property to ensure compliance to the latest laws and regulations. Additionally, please refer to the below list of some of the potential specialist services that ENVASS currently has the capacity to provide:


  • Remote Services: Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping and Modelling, Desktop Studies and Screening, Terrestrial Biodiversity and Wetland Screening Services, as well as a Virtual Mining Software (VMS) Solution Package.
  • Aquatic Assessments: Aquatic biomonitoring Surveys, Fish Response Assessment Index (FRAI), WET- toxicity testing,  South African Diatom Index (SADI), Specific Pollution Sensitivity Index (SPSI) and ecological reserve determination.
  • Wetland Assessments: Wetland and River Baseline studies, Wetland Rehabilitation Programmes, Wetland Delineation, WET-Health, WET-EcoServices and Ecological Importance and Sensitivity (EIS) and impact assessments.
  • Hydropedological Surveys: Buffer zone determination, hillslope catena surveys, dominant subsurface flow determination and impact assessments. 
  • DWS Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM): Conducting or providing training for the use and understanding of General Notice 509 of 2016 regarding RAM for WULAs.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Surface and groundwater, air quality, dust fall-out, noise surveys and baseline assessments.
  • Compliance Audits.
  • ISO Environmental Management Systems (EMS): EMS development, implementation and maintenance internal audits, ISO 14001:2004 – ISO 14001:2015 GAP Analysis, ISO 14001 systems training, environmental legal training and awareness training.
  • Other Specialist Studies: Visual Impact Assessments, Noise Studies, Odour Assessments, Waste Classification, Land Capability and Soil Assessments, Air Quality Baseline Assessments and Heritage Impact Assessments.


Therefore, feel free to contact us for quotes on any environmentally related services!