“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek proverb.
We will gladly assist with advice and recommendations regarding an ideal tree for your garden and with the sourcing of your trees. Contact Dirk directly or provide your details via our website and we will be in touch to assist with your tree sourcing requirements.
More about tree conservation
Many of these species are under ever-increasing pressure due to deforestation, over-utilisation or changing environmental conditions. It is with the conservation of these endangered species in mind that a list of protected trees has been established.
“The National Forests Act of 1998 (Act no. 84 of 1998) states that no person may cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree, or possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree or any forest product derived from a protected tree, except under a license or exemption granted by the Minister to an applicant, and subject to such period and conditions as may be stipulated.”
Many people have run into trouble with their local authorities or with an informed neighbour for unintentionally removing or cutting back protected trees. It is advisable to check with your local authorities before you start removing trees, especially if you have old and established trees on your property and you are not 100% sure of their species. In some cases, one can apply for a permit in order to prune or transplant these trees. These application documents can be obtained at your nearest Water Affairs & Forestry offices.
Currently, more than 70 trees and groups of trees have been declared by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) as national Champion trees, meaning they are fully protected under the National Forests Act of 1998 (The Act).
The Champion tree project of South Africa aims to list and protect trees of national conservation significance. Over the years the project has focused on raising awareness about the national tree heritage, and on promoting it as an asset for tourism.
Some interesting trees on this list are:
The Sophiatown Oak
The first tree to be declared as protected under the Act in 2003 was an English oak tree (Quercus robur) in Sophiatown in Johannesburg. Estimated to be over a century old, it was the only relic and landmark from the days before the residents were forcibly relocated and the town was turned into a ‘whites-only’ suburb under apartheid. The tree is of cultural significance because it was under its leafy branches that residents and political activists used to gather for meetings.
The Sophiatown oak tree was visible from several street blocks away, with a trunk girth of 4.48m and a crown diameter of more than 30m. The Act was created by a property owner as an attempt to stop the destruction of the tree. The tree fell down in 2008, but its trunk can be viewed at the Trevor Huddlestone Centre.
The “Sagole Tree” Baobab (Adansonia digitata)
This, the largest indigenous tree of South Africa, is found in the Limpopo Province and has an average height of 22m and a stem circumference of 33.72m!
Mosselbay “Post Office Tree”
This Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) is of great historical importance. It is believed that an old shoe was placed underneath it in which messages were exchanged by Portuguese seafarers in the 16th century.
Largest tree in the Western Cape
This Moreton By fig (Ficus macrophylla) is one of the four largest trees in South Africa and has a height of 32.5m and a stem circumference of 11.89m. It can be seen in the Arderne Gardens in Claremont, Cape Town.
Nominating trees to be protected
Anyone can nominate indigenous or non-indigenous trees for Champion status. Trees can be listed according to size criteria like height and trunk circumference, or according to value criteria such as historic value and age.
The nomination cycle starts on 1 August each year, and ends on 31 July the following year. Thereafter, the nominated trees are assessed by a panel of experts. This panel assists The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with the shortlisting of trees, the details of which are then published for comment, and the trees are finally declared as protected.