In South Africa, indigenous forests are the smallest biome covering 0.1 percent of the country (1 062km2). All of South Africa’s indigenous forests are threatened by alien invasive species including gum trees (Eucalyptus spp.) pine (Pinus spp.) and black wattles. Lantana, bugweed and morning glory creepers are among the smaller species that are invading forest zones.
The forestry industry in South Africa is committed to sustainable stewardship of their plantations of eucalyptus and pine trees which are grown in demarcated zones as per the legislation for all Category 2 invasive alien species.
The new National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 2004 (NEMBA) Draft Regulations released on the 12 February 2014 outline in detail the proposed regulations for eucalyptus and pine trees.
The gum or eucalypt species are best known for their commercial use as timber trees and windbreaks. They are also cultivated for shade, firewood, ornamental purposes, and honey products.
Listed gum species include the Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Sugar Gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx), Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor), Saligna Gum (Eucalyptus grandis), Spider Gum (Eucalyptus lehmannii), and Forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis).
They originate from Australia and are declared Category 1b when found invading watercourses, forest margins, riparian areas, protected conservation areas, ecosystems identified for conservation, fynbos, grassland, savanna, Albany thicket, forest and Indian coastal biome. All Category 1b species must be contained and in many cases they already fall under government sponsored management programmes.
Gum trees grown in forest plantations are listed as Category 2 in areas demarcated by permit for plantations, woodlots, bee-forage areas, wind-rows and the lining avenues. Category 2 species need a permit to keep them and you need to make sure they do not spread.
In the NEMBA Draft Regulations (12 February 2014), Eucalyptus species are not listed within the Nama-karoo, Succulent Karoo and Desert biomes. Moreover, very large gums 50m or more away from rivers or riparian areas in large urban areas are exempt from all invasive species legislation.
Pine wood is widely used in high value carpentry items such as furniture, window frames, panelling, floors and roofing. There nine pine alien invasive pine species listed on NEMBA, four of the species are Category 2, two are Category 3 and three are both Category 1b and 2.
Category 3 species require a permit in order to import, posses, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept as gift. A permit will not be issued for Category 3 plants to exist in riparian zones.
To ensure environmental sustainability, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has established Working for Forests which aims to promote the conservation of indigenous forests and the sustainable use of the resources and ecosystem services provided by these forests. Working for Forests also assists in converting abandoned forest plantations into woodlots for local communities.
For more information: http://www.fao.org/forestry/international-day-of-forests/en/
Report by: Vhudzisani Maedza, Florence Moasa and Siyanda Sishuba – Interns, Biosecurity Unit, Environmental Programmes, Department of Environmental Affairs.