Abstract for: Systemic analysis of the management of Invasive Alien Plants in the Tsitsa River catchment

Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS) are known to impact a multitude of systems by causing biodiversity loss, land and ecosystem degradation and various ecosystem services loss, such as affecting water availability, crop lands, fish stocks, and more. IAPS have been identified by stakeholders as one of the three biggest concerns within the Tsitsa River Catchment of South Africa (SA), which is a national pilot site for alternative ways of reducing degradation and increasing restoration whilst supporting peoples’ livelihoods. The largest programme for clearing IAPs in SA is the ‘Working for Water’ programme. Many community members partially rely on IAPS for their livelihoods – including using IAPS as fuel wood for heating and cooking, for building materials, and for selling as fire wood for income – and may oppose clearing for these reasons. A community-run project is being explored that uses IAPS biomass to produce charcoal, which is the focus of this SD model. An ecological problem that is tightly connected with socio-economic issues guarantees friction when it comes to decision-making. System dynamics is therefore an appropriate method to explore the tightly coupled social-ecological problem in this study.