Permits for planting indigenous Cynodon?

Couch lawn (Cynodon dactylon) planted in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort. (Pic: Leslie Hoy). Couch lawn (Cynodon dactylon) planted in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort. (Pic: Leslie Hoy).

On 16 February, 2018, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs issued amendments to the regulations and lists relating to the National List of Invasive Species. 

Updates to the draft National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations and updates to the NEMBA AIS Lists were published in the Government Gazette. 

DEADLINE for public comment :  16 March, 2018.       

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Why should you be interested?

The proposed legislation includes the listing of indigenous and water wise Cynodon dactylon (ordinary couch grass) as a new National Invasive Species.

The proposal is to make Cynodon dactylon a Category 2 species... which means it can only be propagated, owned, transported or planted with a permit. 

Should the legislation go ahead, all government ministeries, national parks, national botanical gardens, municipalities, landowners, sports administrators, landscapers and gardeners across the country will have to buy a R100 permit (which takes 6 weeks to get) to make their indigenous lawns on their property legal. 

Every time a landscaper wants to plant indigenous and water wise, couch grass (Cynodon dactylon) or any of its cultivars, they will need to obtain a R100 permit. 

Every municipality or organ of state in the country will have to obtain 'area' permits to make the indigenous and water wise couch grass (Cynodon dactylon) growing in their parks, sports fields and road verges... legal. 

Unintended consequences

Indigenous Cynodon dactylon and its many cultivars are used extensively in the horticultural and landscaping industry as an alternative to waterholic kikuyu.

Cynodon species make up a large proportion of the turf mixes used on sports fields, waterwise landscapes, gardens and parks across South Africa. 

The government's intention to add a third indigenous species to the National Invasive Species List (two indigenous frogs are currently on the list) may well encourage an unprecidented increase in the planting of alien and waterholic kikuyu grass. 

For many environmentalists, conservationists and green industry professionals, the concept of indigenous Cynodon dactylon becoming a Category 2 invasive species is an just unworkable for South African society. 

Invasion biology scientists need to taxonomically work out the Cynodon family issues and pin point their concerns.

To simply announce a blanket decree against the indigenous and waterwise Cynodon dactylon species as a whole - is doing more harm to the invasive species movement than good in the public arena. 

What species are on the proposed lists?

Here are just a few of the species listed on the  revised NEMBA AIS Lists: 

         Cynodon dactylon - Bermuda grass, common couch - Category 2

         Cyphomandra betacea - Tree tomato - Category 3

         Lolium multiflorum - Italian ryegrass - Category 2

         Lolium perenne - Perennial ryegrass - Category 2

         Lonicera japonica - Japanese honeysuckle - Category 3

        Morus nigra - Black mulberry - Category 3

        Oenothera indecora - Evening primrose - Category 3

        Oenothera rosea - Pink evening primrose - Category 3

       Oenothera stricta - Sweet sundrop - Category 3

After years of debate:  Rainbow Trout (Cat 2) and Brown Trout (Cat 2) have finally made it to the invasive species lists. 


Amendments to Invasive Species Lists

Proposed amendments to the NEMBA A&IS Lists - Published in the Government Gazette @ 16 February 2018


Amendments to Regulations

Proposed amendments to the NEMBA (Act 10) - Draft AIS Regulations - Published in the Government Gazette @ 16 February 2018