The Hack

Current Situation

Although we’ve come a long way in curbing the spread of invasive alien plants the GCS has upped its game by employing an AIP (Alien Invasive Plant) clearing team 3 days per month. We apply through the municipality for funding by the Extended Public Works Project to allow our team to work for extended periods of up to three months at a time. This has enabled us to make further inroads and to start tackling new areas, continue to follow up judiciously, maintain the hiking trail network and fire breaks and general maintenance required by the nature reserve and the Saturday morning market.


Hacking 1st started under the guidance of the Greyton Conservation Society, then headed up by Fritz Volk, in 1993 when the north banks of the Gobos were heavily infested with black wattle.

Looking ahead

Although inroads are now being made the end is not in sight! To this end we have applied to Lotto for funding for a 3 year project to clear all the AIP’s in the Greyton commonage. Even if we receive the funding required continuous follow ups will be required for many years to come!  Click here for the AIP management plan.

Join the Hack!

This is where we as individuals make a difference! The hack is always on the prowl for new outcrops of aliens often in hard to get to spots or are sparsely distributed – generally where the bigger teams and agencies don’t bother to go. The hack has nipped many a budding outcrop of hakea, black wattle and pine in the bud!

The hack combines good measures of hard work and socialising and rewards all hackers with a tea table set up in the mountains serving hot tea and coffee and delicious sandwiches made by Penny Nesbit with ingredients sponsored by the local Grocer and Concordia cheeses.

Hacking is not confined to “hack day” – always the 3rd Tuesday morning of the month. The “ramblers” and other hiking groups, individual hikers and dog walkers often get distracted by the call of the pine or the hakea when up in the nature reserve or surrounding koppies.

Find out more: Contact Andrew at 082 835 2668 or

What to hack?

In our AIP management plan we’ve identified a “Top 10” list that covers most of the worst category 1 & 2 species as identified by CARA (Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act). These are (click on link for additional information):

1. Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii)

2. Long-leaved wattle (Acacia longifolia)

3. Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)

4. Port Jackson (Acacia saligna)

5. Cluster pine (Pinus pinaster)

6. Silky Hakea (Hakea sericea)

7. Bugweed (Solanum mauritianum)

8. Eucalyptus spp.

9. Grey poplar (Populus canescens)

10. Bramble / European blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

The above links take you to information on an external website that is the property of Invasive Species South Africa and its respective partners.

How to hack?

The hakea and the pine are the only plants on this list that will die if cut low (below any growth). The other plants need special attention to avoid causing a bigger problem than before. Black wattle, longifolia, Port Jackson, bugweed, eucalyptus and bramble all shoot where they were cut and one is often left with a dense shrub where there was a single tree.

Black wood and grey poplar are especially tricky because even if you do cut and apply herbicide new growth shoots up from the roots and create a severe “hydra” effect. Where you had one tree one year later you are likely to have a grove! These are the trees that you will often see ring barked as they then die back slowly without sending up shoots. For the same reason these 2 species also don’t respond well to pulling.

For the rest pulling out by the roots is generally the best thing you can do: you kill the plant once and for all and you don’t use any herbicide.