One of the things that contributes to ecosystem degradation in South Africa is invasion by alien plants. This is estimated to cost the nation R6.5 billion annually in damages and the government spends over R400 million annually clearing alien trees. Despite this investment, alien tree invasions continue to increase across the country.
Alien trees threaten biodiversity, increase the risk of more intense and frequent wildfires and also guzzle water. This is an important factor in water scarce regions, like South Africa, that experience droughts.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted how much of the world’s wheat supply relies on these two countries. For instance, a recently released UN report shows a sample of 25 African countries that rely on wheat imports from Russia or Ukraine. Of this group, 21 import most of their wheat from Russia.
Between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported US$3.7 billion in wheat (32% of the continent’s total wheat imports) from Russia and another US$1.4 billion from Ukraine (12% of the continent’s wheat imports).
The poor state of the quality of discharge into the receiving environment has a cumulative effect on water quality in rivers, lakes, wetlands and in groundwater. Most of South Africa’s rivers and wetlands ecosystems are threatened. This spells further natural disaster because these systems play a vital role in supporting ecosystem services such as flood control, drought mitigation and nature-based water treatment.