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Local conservation professionals attending the Working for Water New Approach Towards Invasive Plant Management on Private Land.

C·I·B core team members Prof Karen Esler (Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, SU) and Dr. Heidi Prozesky (Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, SU) co-hosted a workshop to discuss Working for Waters (WFW) new approach to managing alien plant invasions on private land. Participants included a diverse group of local conservation professionals experienced in invasion management and affiliated to organisations such as WFW, LandCare, CapeNature, CSIR, SanParks, the City of Cape Town, Agulhas Flower Valley Association, the Department of Agriculture, and the Botanical Society of South Africa. The workshop formed part of a larger multi-stakeholder assessment of incentives and barriers to invasive plant management on private land in the Western Cape. Drs Esler and Prozesky are collaborating with Lauren Urgenson, a PhD candidate from the University of Washington, USA, visiting under a US National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grant to conduct this research.

Private land-user involvement has been identified as a limiting factor in the long-term management of alien invasive plants throughout South Africa. Without broad land-user support, invasive plants persist on the landscape and continuously re-invade cleared areas. WFWs policy will combine a novel suite of incentives and disincentives to promote sustained land-user responsibility and management of invasions. This approach requires a major shift in the rights, roles, and responsibilities of both land-users and the management agencies working with them. Enhanced understanding of stakeholder perspectives is therefore critical to effective policy development and implementation.

The multi-stakeholder research project will use a combination of workshops, personal interviews, and e-mail surveys to collect data on the perspectives of local experts, private land-users, and WFW managers towards WFWs new approach. Study results will provide valuable monitoring information to feed back into policy development. The study will also serve as a case study to evaluate the use of incentives and disincentives to promote alien invasive plant management on private land. The April 1st workshop proved itself to be a highly informative initial step for all involved in this project.