In an effort to protect and preserve the natural environment of South Africa’s Cape region, a collaborative initiative between Cape Nature, Helihack, Husqvarna, local landowners and other interested parties, took place over the past weekend from 21st to 23rd April 2023. This project which specifically focused on Earth Day on 22nd April, aimed to clear invasive vegetation, particularly pine trees, in the Langeberg Mountain range. This alien species poses a threat to the natural habitat and biodiversity of this magnificent South African UNESCO World Heritage site in the Western Cape’s Bosmansbos Wilderness area, and without intervention could eventually overwhelm it all together.
“Husqvarna supports many conservation efforts in South Africa and we first became involved with Helihack two years ago. This was in response to their innovative approach towards the sustainable management of water resources through the elimination of invasive pine trees in the province’s remote mountainous catchment areas,” says Divan Vermaak, Husqvarna’s Veld Management Specialist. “As champions of sustainable land (veld) management, we understand that no single organisation can achieve this goal alone. Husqvarna, therefore, put its weight behind this latest Helihack project by sending in a team and equipment to assist.
Vermaak explains that because water management falls within the veld management spectrum of their business, they have been very fortunate to participate in a couple of previous Helihack projects too, supplying a variety of clothing and equipment to make the mountaineers’ jobs easier.”
“During a Helihack operation, experienced volunteers are suspended from helicopters and dropped with their chainsaws onto remote mountain tops where they clear invasive pines and other alien plant species,” he elaborates. “Over the two or three days of the undertaking, the group will then cut down as many as 5 000 trees.”
Once again, teams of volunteers took to the skies this past weekend and were airlifted to specific locations on the Langeberg Mountain range, braving rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions. Relying on each other’s expertise and support they were then able to successfully clear the invasive pines and other vegetation threatening the delicate ecosystem and help to restore this world heritage site to its natural state, ensuring that it continues to deliver as a water catchment area.
In an intense exercise such as this, the operators depend on their expertise and the performance of their equipment. This is where Husqvarna has been able to add value to these initiatives. “The Helihack team has been testing our battery-operated chainsaws to see how they handle this type of work, and the feedback has been great,” says Vermaak. “As a result, Husqvarna sponsored a battery-operated chainsaw as well as training on the safe use of this equipment.”
Speaking on behalf of Helihack, Michael Raimondo says Husqvarna’s battery-operated chainsaws have proved to be a game changer. Light and reliable, they are proving much easier to operate. “We have to work very quickly and the battery-operated chainsaws are light and reliable which saves time and energy,” he comments. “Made for purpose, you can flip off one battery and put on another, even while dangling from a rope with your chainsaw next to you. With just two batteries, you can operate the chainsaw all day.”
Raimondo adds that there are also other advantages to the equipment like when working in wilderness areas, quiet is better and the battery-operated chainsaw really delivers in this regard. While battery-operated chainsaws were used in this latest initiative, these were also complemented by Husqvarna petrol-powered chainsaws which do the job of clearing the larger pines faster.
“Through our successful partnership with Helihack in collaboration with all the other stakeholders involved, we have demonstrated the incredible impact and success that can be achieved when people work together towards a common vision…we truly are, partners in the field,” concludes Vermaak.
For more information or to view Husqvarna’s range of products, visit www.husqvarna.co.za