2 December, 2016
Indigenous conservation: Garden Route outgrows plantation forestry
Cape Town - The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) has announced that Mountain to Ocean (MTO) has transferred approximately half of the planned 19, 800 hectares of land in favour of conservation. These areas previously used for plantation forestry, will now be managed with the protection of the natural forests as the key objective.
The termination of plantation forestry in these areas, GRNP says, will now be added to the largest complex of indigenous forests in South Africa - found in the Garden Route and managed as part of the GRNP.
Over the years, many plantation forestry areas have been rehabilitated with indigenous, natural vegetation - as opposed to forestry - as main objective.
Indigenous forests in the Southern Cape were transferred to SANParks to manage for conservation by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) including The Farleigh Forest Estate, now part of the Wilderness section, and includes areas between George and the Knysna River, consisting of the areas known as Groenkop, Bergplaas, Karatara and Goudveld.
The Knysna section of the GRNP now includes the former Knysna National Lake Area, adjacent to the town of Knysna, and the former Diepwalle Forest Estate and Harkerville.
The former Tsitsikamma Forest Estate, with its office at the Storms River Village, comprises the areas to the east of Plettenberg Bay, Bloukrans, Lottering, Storms River, Blueliliesbush, Witelsbos and the Loerie Nature Reserve.
Collectively, these areas now make up the largest complex of indigenous forests in South Africa, and stretches from George to Tsitsikamma across some 60 500 hectares of land.
SANParks Scientists have recorded and documented in a 2015 State of Knowledge report the presence of more than 30 terrestrial habitat types, representing more than 50 forest and fynbos communities within the boundaries of the GRNP.
The forest is a haven for 465 species occurring in the forest areas, over 22 species of amphibians, 24 reptile species, 305 species of birds and 290 mammal species.
At least 7.1% of the Park's mammals are listed as Endangered and 14% as Vulnerable, GRNP says.
The Park is also home to over 262 bird species and protects a population of 28 species listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red data list.