Drak wattle efforts get the all clear

Underberg – As the 2014 N3TC Drak Challenge looms large and paddlers return to the uMzimkhulu river the race organisers have resumed their ongoing battle to rid the river of Wattle trees, as part of a unique programme to eradicate the alien invaders with the funding and support of the participants.

Wattle have proven to be a huge problem throughout the Underberg region and beyond and being an invasive species they spread quickly which means that it is crucial that when they are destroyed they are destroyed fully so they cannot regrow and wreak havoc along the uMzimkhulu water system where the annual Drak Challenge takes place.

It has been a long process for race committee head Barry Cole and his team but they are making headway into clearing the wattle from the river and making sure that it never returns.

The initiative is not funded by anyone else besides for the paddlers themselves who have the option to pay an added coast onto their entry fee in order to support the wattle clearing and for Cole clearing the wattle is vitally important for the safety of the paddlers.

“The feedback that we get from paddlers every year is really encouraging and it seems that over the years the amount of money that the paddlers are giving to our effort is growing which is great because they appreciate the difference that the wattle clearing actually makes for them and the environment.

They make sure that they clear the wattle up to six metres from the water in order to compensate for flooding,” explained Cole.

It is important that the wattle do not grow back once they have been cut so Cole and his team spray the trees three times a year to prevent the regrowth and the results have been very encouraging for him and the other organisers of the race.

There are large sections of the river that Cole and his team have been able to clear and the effort that he puts in to ridding the Umzimkhulu of these invader species does not go unnoticed when the paddlers come into town for the N3TC Drak Challenge in January.

The N3TC Drak Challenge 2014 starts on 18 January at Castleburn outside Underberg and finishes on 19 January at Early Mist Farm close to Coleford. More information can be found at www.drak.co.za

Drak Challenge logo