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Legal implications in terms of invasive alien plant species

20 Jan 2022 by Philippa Huntly

The management of alien and invasive plant species can sometimes lead to confusion in terms of applicable legislation. There are two national laws that need to be considered, namely the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983 (CARA) and the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 (NEMBA). All landowners have a responsibility and legal liability in relation to the control of invasive vegetation.

In 1984, regulations were published in terms of CARA. These regulations were amended in 1985 and again in 2001. The regulations include a list of 198 species classified as weeds or invader plants according to categories 1, 2 or 3.

The list of alien and invasive species published in terms of NEMBA in 2020 includes 381 plant taxa. The categories applied in these two lists of alien and invasive species do not correspond in all cases. NEMBA categories include 1A, 1B and 2. There are five species listed in the CARA regulations that are not on the NEMBA list, namely burweed (Achyranthes aspera) two species of Eucalyptus (grey and black ironbark – E. paniculata and E. sideroxylon), and two species of willow (Salix babylonica and S. fragilis). In these few cases, the CARA regulations will prevail.

As stated by the Agricultural Research Council, the CARA regulations have been superseded by the NEMBA Regulations which became law on 1 October 2014 ( However, CARA has not been repealed yet by an updated Act and therefore, both pieces of legislation are in force. Notwithstanding, in the event of conflict between NEMBA and any other national legislation, section 8(1)(a) specifically states that NEMBA prevails where it concerns the management of biodiversity.

Three of the worst invasive alien plant species are illustrated in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1: Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)

Figure 2: A dense stand of Cluster Pine (Pinus pinaster)

Further interesting reading:

Figure 1: Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)

Figure 2: A dense stand of Cluster Pine (Pinus pinaster)

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