On Wednesday, 22 May, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)’s Directorate on Biodiversity Evidence in the Gauteng–North West region marked the International Day for Biological Diversity by hosting an awareness event focused on alien invasive species, with particular attention given to Harrisia balansae.

Harrisia balansae, an invasive cactus species listed as Category 1a under the NEM:BA regulation, poses a significant threat to native ecosystems. South Africa is confronted with a continuous influx of new alien species each year, resulting in substantial negative impacts on both the environment and society.

In response to this challenge, SANBI’s held an inclusive workshop, which engaged multiple stakeholders. Farmers, local community members and representatives from various organisations such as the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), the South African Local Government Association, Community Health Workers, DFFE–Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, DFFE–Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, Traditional Councils and the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism came together to address the issue collaboratively.

As custodians of South Africa’s natural heritage, SANBI recognises that true sustainability in biodiversity conservation requires active participation from all stakeholders. The theme ‘Be part of the plan’ for this year’s celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the importance of collective action and society working together.

‘SANBI aims to empower communities to take ownership of biodiversity conservation efforts. By working together, we can protect our environment and ensure it remains healthy for generations to come,’ said Thulisile Jaca, Plant Taxonomist at SANBI.

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