n African Entomology - Regulation and risk assessment for importations and releases of biological control agents against invasive alien plants in South Africa

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



The importation and release of biological control agents against invasive alien plants in South Africa are subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), under its Agricultural Pests Act, and by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), initially under its Environment Conservation Act, subsequently under the National Environmental Management Act and eventually, as soon as the relevant regulations have been developed, under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act. Peer review, both within South Africa, and with colleagues in other countries, has helped to ensure the integrity of the science and practice of weed biological control in South Africa. This paper traces the development of the regulatory system from the first weed biological control project in 1913, through a dispensation when importations and releases were authorized by DAFF only to a dual regulatory system involving two government departments. Inappropriate legislation, lack of knowledge about biological control amongst the relevant authorities and the costs of employing compulsory private consultants are some of the reasons for significant delays that have become a feature in the authorization of biological control agent releases. These delays have set back several control programmes. Holding agents in quarantine while awaiting decisions ties up expensive space and staff time and increases the risk of losing colonies through accidents or decreased genetic vigour. It seems likely that changes in legislation within DEA will streamline the regulatory process in the near future.

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