Invasive species are controlled by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act no. 10 of 2004) – Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations which became law on 1 October 2014.
The AIS Regulations list 4 different categories of invasive species that must be managed, controlled or eradicated from areas where they may cause harm to the environment, or that are prohibited to be brought into South Africa.
Invasive species are species that have been introduced into an area, and are able to outcompete and displace indigenous or useful alien species. They may be plants, animals or microbes, and are widely regarded as among the biggest threats to the productive use of land and water, to the ecological functioning of natural systems, to health and to the economy.
Invasive species are divided into four categories:
- Category 1a: Invasive species which must be combatted and eradicated. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited.
- Category 1b: Invasive species which must be controlled and wherever possible, removed and destroyed. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited.
- Category 2: Invasive species, or species deemed to be potentially invasive, in that a permit is required to carry out a restricted activity. Category 2 species include commercially important species such as pine, wattle and gum trees. Plants in riparian areas are Cat 1b.
- Category 3: Invasive species which may remain in prescribed areas or provinces. Further planting, propagation or trade, is however prohibited. Plants in riparian areas are Cat 1b.