MBABANE –Once again the Municipal Council of Mbabane continues to set the benchmark for all local municipalities by winning E3.6million grant from the European Union. Winning the grant is a proud moment for the city as other municipalities had attempted to access the grant but failed which further echoes the fact that the municipality is a trailblazer and sets the bar very high.
The sum of EURO 250.000 (E3 650 000) will be directed towards the project titled “Waste Minimization Initiatives: Focusing on waste recycling and food waste composting practices in Mbabane.” Council has already signed the agreement with the EU and implementation of the project will begin in the new financial year.
In due course Mbabane residents and stakeholders will be briefed on the aspects of the project that will be rolled out by the municipality. Mbabane residents will be engaged on waste recycling and food waste composting practices. The municipality already has impressive programs that promise green practices in schools that are within the Mbabane urban boundary in which a total of twenty four schools participated and were later awarded by the level in which they adopted and used green practices in the day to day operations of the school.
INVASIVE ALIEN PLANT SPECIES IN MBABANE
Mechanical control involves the physical destruction or total removal of plants. Mechanical techniques vary, and include hand pulling, felling, uprooting, and ring barking, cutting/slashing, strip-barking or mowing. Mechanical methods are not feasible in dense infestations as these can be labour intensive and time-consuming. Removing all IAPs using mechanical control methods in a densely infestated area can also cause severe soil disturbance and erosion. These methods are generally more appropriate for spare infestations and for species that do not coppice after cutting.
Chemical control of IAPs involves the use of herbicides (plant poison) to kill targeted plants. Herbicide operators must have a basic understanding of how herbicides function, as the will guide the correct selection of herbicides for different purposes and plants.
The use of inappropriate herbicides and the incorrect use of the appropriate herbicides are wasteful, expensive practices. They often do more harm than good. This is especially problematic when working in close proximity to watercourses. Some herbicides can quickly contaminate fresh water systems and/or be transported downstream where they may remain active in the ecosystem. This is especially the case for herbicides with a high soil residual effect, i.e. herbicides.
IAPs thrive and spread in an exponential manner partly due to lack of natural enemies (e.g browsers or pathogens) that might occur in their land of origin. Biological control, or bio-control, is the introduction of these natural enemies to remove the plants competitive advantage, and reduce population vigour to a level comparable to that of the natural vegetation/.
These natural enemies are termed biological control agents and most include insects, mites and micro –organisms such as fungi or bacteria. Biological control agents usually attack specific parts of the plant. They can either attack the reproductive organs directly, e.g on the parent plant (flowers buds, flowers, or fruit), or the seeds after they have dropped. The stress caused by a bio control agent may kill a plant outright, or it might impact on the plants reproductive capacity.
Correct management of open space areas, parks and gardens, and nurseries is therefore important if IAPs are to be successfully controlled. As such, it is important to understand which practices to adopt for a particular area. For example, it might be inappropriate to use fire to control IAPs in a nursery, but essential for managing them in a grassland site. Fire is an excellent tool for reducing the IAPs present in grassland areas, and if the fire is the correct intensity and duration, it can kill certain IAP species. Other IAP species will coppice and produce new shoots from ground level, after a fire has passed and these are easier to control with chemical or manual clearing methods.
Black Wattle seeds are stimulated to germinate by fire. Once the re-invading seedlings have grown or plants have coppiced and they are at a height of not less than 15cm, a suitable foliar spray can be used. It is important to note that while fire is a cheap method of control, care must be taken to follow correct precautions and burning procedures.
There will always be some measure of regeneration of the cleared IAPs after the initial clearing work has been done. Proper follow up work is thus essential and should be conducted regularly. If follow up clearing is not done, the progress made in the initial exercise will be lost within a few years as the IAPs become re-established. Where dense stands of IAPs have been cleared, the re-establishment of indigenous vegetation needs to be supported to help reduce the re-emergence of IAP species and to reduce the risk of soil erosion where the soil surface is poorly vegetated.