Clearing alien vegetation to save water | SAB Stories
In a resilient world, our businesses, local communities and ecosystems share uninterrupted access to safe, clean water. How can we make our environment more resilient? One way is by securing our water supplies, which we share with local communities. We do this not just through reducing our water use, but also by investing in our ecological infrastructure. This mitigates risk and ideally leads to the restoration of water abundance.
It’s not just about conserving water,
It’s also about promoting the supply of fresh, clean water to our natural environments. By looking beyond our breweries and supply chain to ecosystems – like water catchment areas and rivers – we’ve identified areas in which we can promote the supply of fresh water and restore the balance in natural ecosystems.
We do this through environmental initiatives that support the balancing of the natural water table. One of these initiatives is the clearing of alien invader plants.
The Impact of Clearing Aliens,
The WWF’s Working for Water programme has identified alien invasive clearing as one of the most important water supply side interventions that can be made at a national scale (National Water Resource Strategy 2004).
Alien clearing also has the added benefit of reducing the impact of floods and wildfires, improving water quality, reducing further loss of productive land, restoring biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change.
The Water Neutral Concept,
SAB is working with the SA government and WWF’s Working for Water Programme to pilot the ‘water neutral concept’. This fully quantitative water neutral scheme was piloted at the Newlands brewery in Cape Town and the Ibhayi brewery in Port Elizabeth.
The project aims to clear alien vegetation in ecosystems, which in turn releases volumes of water back into the systems, effectively restoring the natural balance. SAB invests in this scheme in accordance with its operational water consumption. By monitoring water consumption, it can be appropriately offset by replenishing the water table.
In the Herold and Waboomskraal areas, alien plant infestation is recognised as the single greatest water risk in the area, with the potential to reduce river flows by 40%. So SAB and WWF are working with local hop farmers on a water stewardship strategy. The work here includes the removal of alien vegetation from catchment areas.
Ways of securing our water supply
Through partnerships we can often be more effective, and together succeed in tackling water risks.
By gaining a thorough understanding of the ways in water is used in our value chain – from farmers right through the brewing process to packaging and recycling materials – we are better equipped to plan and take action. Some of the ways we tackle the water issue are outlined in this post here.
Easy ways for you to be water wise
South Africa is a chronically water-stressed country, and it’s up to each one of us to play our part in saving water. Look out for alien invasive plants in your garden and remove them. Even better, plant indigenous flora in their place.
To find out more about alien invader plants, visit the website of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.