This pilot project, initiated in 2018, focuses on restoring the Goukou catchment system which is largely located on private land in the Hassequa Municipality. Invasive tree infestations are increasing rapidly and have a severe impact on water supply to downstream communities and on biodiversity. To reverse biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation in the Goukou catchment system caused by alien plant invaders, teams are restoring wetlands by clearing these invaders. Currently, there is limited systematic alien tree eradication in the area making the Goukou Resilient River Project an novel initiative. The project is linked with conservation organisations such as CapeNature, as well local stakeholders including private landowners.

Project objectives

The Goukou Resilient River Project has are six primary objectives:

  1. Sustainable restoration of the Goukou River system using ecologically pro-active methods of Invasive Alien Plant Management (IAPM) together with the rehabilitation and re-establishment of Indigenous Plant Species (IPS);
  2. Encourage landowners to get involved in a long-term rehabilitation effort to restore river system health and biodiversity throughout the catchment;
  3. Research possible value-added products and other business opportunities to finance the rehabilitation effort;
  4. Establish a diverse network of experts to improve project planning and implementation, and provide a platform for scientific research;
  5. To do various trials using different/alternative methods of clearing, rehabilitation and re-establishment of IPS to stabilise and protect riparian zones; and
  6. To create jobs and supply training to members of the local community.

Photo: The team consists of a project manager, a rehabilitation coordinator and a quality assurer, together with independent contracting teams consisting of 48 people (Pic: Work at Play Photography and Design).

What has been achieved so far?

Since the start of implementation, teams have been successfully trained in the areas of health and  safety, first aid 1 and 2, brushcutter operation, chainsaw operation, herbicide application, erosion control and indigenous plant identification. Along with the training teams, 384 hectares of lower catchment area and 87.07 hectares of upper catchment area have been and is currently being cleared.

Photo: Tree felling and ring barking of alien invasive trees by team members in the Goukou catchment system. (Pic: Dawid Botha)

In an effort to rehabilitate the areas that have been cleared of invasive trees, the team is currently setting up a nursery to propagate and grow indigenous plant species. The aim is to re-introduce the necessary species into Palmiet wetlands which are ecosystems under immense pressure as a result of the invasive trees.

For more information about the Goukou Resilient River Project please contact Rita Botha, email:

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