Due to the exceptionally rugged terrain created by the Blyde River Canyon and the Mpumalanga Escarpment, significant alien plant invasions (IAPs) on several isolated mountain tops had remained untreated for several decades. The High Altitude Teams (HAT) working in the area had recognised this problem for some time, but struggled to secure funding for helicopter transport of teams onto these mountains. To address this situation, HAT and AWARD agreed to jointly develop a proposal and plan to secure support for this project in 2017. To quantify the extent of the invasion problem AWARD carried out the mapping of pines on these mountains with the help of high resolution aerial photographs. The South African Air Force’s 19th Squadron was also approached for support, and they subsequently flew a small team onto one of these mountains to get a better understanding of the terrain and invasions in these areas. This information allowed HAT to assess the effort and resources required to address these invasions, informing the proposal and clearing plan. With the help of the Inaccessible Areas Clearing plan and proposal, funding was then secured at the beginning of 2018 by HAT, and on 19 July 2018 the project was launched with two HAT teams being flown with all their gear onto Hebron Mountain by helicopter.

The two HAT teams of 26 members then camped on the mountain for 12 days, followed by two fresh teams for another 12 days. During this period Dr. Guy Preston, the DEA Deputy Director General for Environmental Programmes, also visited and addressed the teams on the mountain, highlighting the importance of their work. This successful collaboration has enabled clearing of pines from parts of the Blyde Canyon that were previously completely inaccessible, and is an important step towards an integrated approach to dealing with alien invasive plants in all parts of the Blyde landscape. The work is being continued by HAT in 2019 on further inaccessible mountains located in the Blyde Canyon.