Control of Bulrushes- Zeekoevlei

Roger Godwin

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People – people!

The vlei is particularly low as we have had hardly any rain, hot weather and high winds all leading to lots of evaporation which has successively reduced the water level further than it would normally be at this time of the year.

All the exposed area has left the Typha Capensis high and dry and there are some that intend cutting this down ahead of the Draw Down which takes place on Freedom Day in April.

Typha capensis is a rhizome, also called creeping rootstalk, with horizontal underground plant stems capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant. Rhizomes are used to store starches and proteins and enable a plant to perennate (survive an annual unfavourable season) underground. In addition, those modified stems allow the parent plant to propagate vegetatively (asexually), and some plants, such as poplars and various bamboos, rely heavily on rhizomes for that purpose.

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Controlling Typha:
Controlling excessive Typha growth is extremely difficult and can be quite costly, particularly in natural systems. Various methods have been tried and tested all over the world, but there is no easy way to control the plant.

Herbicides can be effective when applied while the plant is flowering, but the disadvantage is that the decaying plant material accumulates and results in hypertrophic conditions, this plant material also provides a good substrate for regrowth of Typha.

Some herbicides may also have negative effects on other plant and animal life in the system.

Mechanical removal is difficult because of the depth and volume of the rhizomes, but it can be effective in reducing the size of infestations. Manual removal works best on small seedlings when they can be easily pulled out of the damp soil.

The best way to control Typha seems to be using fire and physical cutting in conjunction with flooding. NOTE IN CONJUNCTION WITH FLOODING. If the reeds are burnt and/or cut when water levels are low, and then flooded, growth is considerably inhibited but NOT stopped.

An effective control can be achieved by a combination of mechanical and hand cutting at the end of the growing season and when water levels are low, two clippings about a week or two apart will achieve best results, but then the cut area MUST BE SUBMERGED AS SOON AFTER after in at least 8 to 10 cm of water when water levels rise again.

SO CUTTING THE TYPHA NOW IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME AND COST as it cannot be submerged in time.

A waterside resident for 26 years now I can attest to the above and have manually removed the Typha, roots and all, on a piece by piece basis each year in accordance with my shore side plan.

But there are also other reasons, besides the obvious of clearing rubbish – repair of shore edges that have eroded – repair of Lotus River catch fences – etc etc., why the shore side plans are ONLY TO BE tackled during the draw down period.

The MOST important of these is that there is very little, if any, breeding taking place during this time – so to do any clearing / cutting etc will be to disturb this very necessary cycle in nature.

Ignoring this basic tenant of nature to further the ‘me or I want’ is to demonstrate a total lack of environmental awareness – an awareness that has to be foremost in all the minds of residents at the vlei especially since the inclusion of the Zeekoeivlei Nature Reserve in the RAMSAR certification just awarded.

In dealing with all matters environmental at the vlei for more than 25 years, it has always been, as a fundamental, that the thousands of hours spent at the many, many meetings during this time by the Zeekoeivlei Environmental Forum (ZEF) were for the benefit of Zeekoeivlei and its community.

Can you count yourself in this same endeavour for Zeekoeivlei, your neighbours and the community at large?

To this extent attached are the Bye Laws:

CoCT Public Parks By-law 2010
CoCT-Public-Parks-By-law-2010 (1)

Recreational Water and Boating By_ Law 2010_2

Streets Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law

compliance of which is especially important to Zeekoeivlei Nature Reserve.

Roger Godwin

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