Road-verge Vegetation Management Guidelines

Background and Objectives

This is a practical guide to roadside vegetation management that is designed for road maintenance teams of the Eden District Municipality. It strives to balance the requirements of maintaining road safety and protecting road infrastructure, while conserving indigenous habitats and removing invasive alien plants.

District Municipalities are responsible for maintaining district roads and road infrastructure. Their primary concern is the integrity and safety of the infrastructure, which in turn requires road resurfacing, maintenance of drainage, signage and visibility. However, roads agencies must comply with all relevant legislation including the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998), National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004) that provides for conservation and management of biodiversity and makes provision for special protection of certain species, the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act 43 of 1983 amended 2001) that requires removal of listed alien invasive plants, the Environmental Conservation Act (Act 73 of 1989), the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (101

of 1998) that may require the clearing of firebreaks to protect crops from flammable vegetation, the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999), Atmospheric Pollution Act (Act 45 of 1965), the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998), the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies Amendment Act (Act 4 of 1980) that deals with the storage and use of herbicides, the Fencing Act (Act 31 of 1963) and legislation relating to business practices (Vosloo 2004, Esler & Milton 2006).

Compliance with multiple mandates inevitably leads to conflicts. For example, it is impossible to maintain visibility, create drainage culverts, and make firebreaks without damaging roadside vegetation that might be classified as Critically endangered (Esler & Milton 2006). However, conflicts can be reduced by minimizing damage to vegetation and removing invasive alien plants. Manuals for roadside management are available in many countries, for example parts of the USA (Johnson 2008), UK (Cotswolds Conservation Board, Essex County Council 2000, Street 2002), South Australia (Turner 2001) and Western Australia (DECWA 2009). Guidelines are usually area specific varying with safety, cultural and biodiversity objectives as well as with vegetation type.

This guideline document first describes the value of the vegetation and then management interventions that can damage vegetation and the results of such damage. It then sets out simple rules and suggestions for achieving biodiversity conservation goals without neglecting safety or infrastructural maintenance objectives.