WATCH | Root trigger: Desk Mountain’s timber being stripped of bark utilized in conventional medicines | News24

WATCH | Root trigger: Desk Mountain's timber being stripped of bark utilized in conventional medicines | News24
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  • Bark stripping is resulting in mass tree die-off in elements of Desk Mountain Nationwide Park, significantly Newlands Forest.
  • Gaps within the cover at the moment are rising the chance of runaway fires, whereas permitting invasive plant species to take over.
  • As probably the most sought-after bark turns into rarer within the forest, harvesters at the moment are focusing on timber in suburban areas.

The extreme bark stripping of indigenous timber in Desk Mountain Nationwide Park (TMNP) will increase the chance of runaway fires and opens forests as much as overwhelming invasive development, say conservation teams.

Bark stripping is not new.

The observe of peeling bark from indigenous timber to craft conventional medicines has been carried out for generations, traditionally, in a sustainable method.

WATCH | Tree-killing beetles spread to Cape Town’s lush southern suburbs

“We’re observing syndicates working on this space [of Newlands Forest]. Harvesters now are available in and take as a lot bark as potential, ringbarking the timber and inflicting them to die,” Willem Boshoff, co-founder of the Newlands Forest Conservation Group, tells News24.

His organisation focuses on preserving indigenous forests on the japanese slopes of Desk Mountain.

“Since 2019 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen an exponential enhance in bark stripping the place usually, in a [single] night time, between 10 and 20 timber can be bark stripped.”

He says this observe has a visual affect on the forest, to the purpose the place sections collapse.

Elevated threat of runaway fires

These bark-stripped timber, mostly the Cape Beech and the protected assegai, inevitably destroy surrounding timber once they collapse.

This depletes the forest cover, permitting extra daylight to achieve the bottom, drying out vegetation and rising the chance of fast-moving fires, which already plague Desk Mountain throughout Cape City’s sizzling and windy summer season months.

“The hole within the cover additionally creates area for invasive species to realize a foothold and invasive species, by nature of being invasive, outcompete indigenous species. All this can be a poisonous cocktail that may finally consequence within the everlasting destruction of the Afromontane Forest if not stopped,” explains Boshoff.

Efforts are being made to fight the rampant stripping of timber, however with an enormous space to supervise – some 221 sq. kilometres – and a scarcity of human sources, SANParks is struggling to stem the illicit stream of bark from TMNP.

Contemporary bark stripping in Newlands Forest.

A tree stripped of its bark

A tree in Newlands Forest that has been stripped of bark and painted with a particular paste to assist with regrowth.

News24 Luke Daniel

“On account of market demand, bark stripping incidents have elevated not solely within the park, but in addition on greenbelts inside the metropolis and likewise on non-public property,” SANParks tells News24, including that 45 affected timber had been recognized over the previous 12 months in Newlands Forest alone.

Throughout that point, 5 suspects had been caught.

In February 2021, three suspects had been arrested within the Rhodes Memorial space for possessing stripped bark and chopping instruments.

One in all them pleaded responsible to bark stripping and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment or a nice of R3 000 with a three-year suspended sentence.

Later that 12 months, in October, two extra suspects had been arrested for possessing stripped bark in a nationwide park, with each pleading responsible.

Spreading to suburbs

“Bark stripping is a matter up within the mountain as effectively, but it surely is not solely actually there. It is [also happening along] Claremont major highway, which is a extremely city space, it is occurring right here [in Newlands]it is Kenilworth, it is Durbanville,” Mikhail Manuel, councillor of Ward 59 in Cape City’s southern suburbs, tells News24.

“Definitely, within the final 12 months, it is change into much more prevalent, to the extent the place the Metropolis of Cape City is contemplating making a bark stripping bylaw or including an addition to the tree conserving bylaw.”

Stressing the significance of civic organisations in combating bark stripping, Manuel is on a mission to lift funds to empower community-led initiatives.

The councillor goals to lift R21 000 by working the Two Oceans Half Marathon in April. This cash will go to TreeKeepers Cape City, a neighborhood environmental conservation organisation, and be spent on wrapping timber already broken by bark stripping and defending others with paint.

Contemporary bark stripping in Newlands Forest.

Equipped Willem Boshoff

Contemporary bark stripping in Newlands Forest.

Equipped Willem Boshoff

SANParks consciousness marketing campaign

To save lots of a number of the affected timber, SANParks is implementing reactive measures.

“Stripped timber are painted with a particular paste which protects the tree from an infection and assists restoration.”

In August 2022, SANParks, in partnership with the Newlands Forest Conservation Group, unveiled bark stripping consciousness signage at Newlands Forest.

These indicators intention to “educate and make the general public conscious of the bark stripping points occurring within the Newlands Forest and the place they’ll report the incidents”.

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