South Africa Plan
Forgotten Woods LLC
is pleased to receive beautiful turning wood stocks of reclaimed woods from
Red Ivory Trading Company
Mr Barry James, owner of Red Ivory Trading Company, is working with the Zulu community in South Africa to salvage and commercialize trees that are being destroyed by an invasive minerals mining operation located in Zululand. The members of the Zulu community have received permission to salvage and reclaim the trees which have in the past either been burned or buried as the mine chews up the land. With the acquisition efforts of Red Ivory Trading and the sales distribution of forgotten woods the Zulu people are gaining a badly needed source of cash income.
Barry, a game biologist, is also salvaging beautiful timber species that the increasing elephant population is devastating. Through the act of destroying trees elephants are actually returning the land to it's historical form.... the grasslands that Africa is so famous for. After the African elephant population was decimated by human activity during the last century the once vast grasslands used by the vast mammal herds as their grazing grounds became encroached upon by forests. As tree species invaded open grasslands the land lost it's capacity to provide forage for grazing animals. Without grasslands herds of grazing mammals have no place to forage for food so their populations dwidle. This not only impacts the wild herds but also eliminates the space needed buy humans to graze their captive herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Now, given a chance elephants are correcting the error of the past century. As elephants destroy trees they return the grasslands to nature and leave behind species of wood for local communities to process into beautiful turning woods.........Forgotten Woods.
Environmental and Forest/woodland Management in South Africa
Bush Encroachment in the Savanna
The historical removal of megaherbivores from the savanna landscape, the alteration of fire regimes, the reduced use of trees, and disproportionately high levels of grazing have been blamed for the general bush encroachment problem in the savanna biome. Of the approximately 43 million hectares of savanna biome in South Africa, bush encroachment has rendered 1.1 million hectares unusable for stock farming, threatens 27 million additional hectares, and has reduced the carrying capacity of much of the rest of the region by up to 50 % (Hoffman, 1997). The reintroduction of many of the original game species, particularly the browsers, will serve to reverse some of these negative changes.
Towards indigenous “forests” in cities and towns by Barry James 2007.
Eleven years ago my wife and I left the then Natal Parks Board and moved from Imfolozi Game Reserve to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. Since then, our love for the bush and for indigenous plants has prompted us to plant up two almost completely indigenous gardens, one in Lincoln Meade and one in Montrose. We moved to Howick, near Pietermaritzburg in October 2005, to a large garden that had an existing “forest” at one end. Much to the horror of many people, soon after moving in, we climbed into the “forest” with chainsaws.
Why did we, as passionate tree lovers, do such a “strange” thing? By eliminating the declared alien plant invader species, namely the camphors, penny gum, silky oak, Chinese guava, Australian bottlebrush and privets, we were both obeying the law and doing our bit to reverse the threat of these alien invaders. The liquidamber, red robin and magnolia received a temporary stay of execution. The initial result was devastating and the mess indescribable. I converted the silky oak, penny gum and camphor into planks and sold most of it, whilst using some of the wood to make garden gates and a camphor cabinet in our laundry.
We have since replaced the exotic “forest” with the elements of an indigenous Mistbelt forest and are in the process of converting our entire garden to indigenous. The emerging Mistbelt forest and its fringes have two yellowwood species (Podocarpus henkelii and P. latifolius), a broom cluster fig (Ficus sur), white ironwood (Vepris lanceolata), Cape holly (Ilex mitis), Cape quince (Cryptocarya woodii), red alder (Cunonia capensis), perdepis (Clausena anisata), false perdepis (Hippobromus pauciflorus), bladder nut (Diospyros whyteana), white climbing sage (Buddleja dysophilla), weeping sage (Buddleja auriculata), cross berry (Grewia occidentalis), forest num-num (Carissa bispinosa), sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum), Cape beech (Rapanea melanophloeos), black stinkwood (Ocotea bullata) and wild peach (Kiggelaria africana).
Under the emerging canopy we have planted a stand of clivias and there are different species of indigenous grasses, sedges and forbs beginning to emerge. As these plants are beginning to establish, we are being treated to a varied display of butterflies, moths and other insects, as well as birds. Our two year old little boy loves to play in the forest and we plan to create “secret” paths for him to explore as the trees and shrubs grow, with benches situated in hidden corners for those special moments of relaxation.
Our front entrance, which previously consisted of a monotonous row of hydrangeas, now has an exciting variety of indigenous shrubs, and our verge has forty nine indigenous shrubs and trees of different species, already becoming quite well established and starting to form a screen. As time progresses, we can expect to get an increasing number of birds visiting our garden and eventually nesting there. As already mentioned, we have been through the process twice and we have seen that the results can be phenomenal.
Now the point of this article. Howick has probably almost perfect conditions for plant growth. We have deep, fertile soils and good rainfall. Unfortunately, this means that the alien invasive plant species also do very well here. I have a dream that we, as Howick residents and business owners, can convert this little town into a complex mosaic of indigenous Mistbelt forest patches, open grassland and woodland and capitalise on that as a tourist attraction. People are always waxing lyrical about the beauty of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, but the truth of the matter is much of it is completely overrun with alien invasive plants, exotic plantations and agriculture, which have transformed the landscape. The two most threatened habitats, the grasslands and the indigenous forests, need all of the help they can get. There are places where magnificent indigenous Mistbelt forests exist (particularly the Karkloof) and pristine grasslands are still intact, but they are few and far between.
Within an urban area, it is virtually impossible to create a large viable grassland, which needs fire as a management tool, but we can create viable Mistbelt forest patches, with maybe a few patches of grassland. There is a town in New Zealand that is essentially a rain forest, so why can’t we have something similar in South Africa? A good example of an urban forest is Johannesburg. Despite the relatively dry climate, Johannesburg contains about six million trees, and it is often claimed that the city has the largest man-made forest in the world. Unfortunately, the bulk of those trees are not indigenous and probably many are declared invasive plants.
What we have to keep in mind in Howick is that a large proportion of the existing trees in our gardens are listed alien invaders which, by law, should be removed. Looking around Howick one sees listed invaders such as camphor, silky oak, bugweed, privet, loquat, mulberry, inkberry, jacaranda, tipuana and others in profusion. We should be replacing those trees with indigenous trees and, by so doing, tipping the balance against the alien species so that the birds have their natural food to eat and don’t perpetuate the explosion of the invasive plants. The joy about removing many of these trees is that there is a market for the timber from many of them, so the costs of felling can often be partially offset against the sale of the timber.
There are many good reasons for planting indigenous plants and one of the most important of these, for us, is that we do not water our garden, other than during initial planting. Our attitude is that if it can’t survive without watering then it must go. In a water-scarce country like South Africa and in a World where some predict that future wars will be fought over water, it seems crazy to water gardens with purified drinking water. Having an indigenous garden also means that one doesn’t need to use pesticides, fungicides, fertilisers and all of the other chemicals that kill insects, birds and frogs and pollute our groundwater. One doesn’t have to be an absolute purist; we still have some roses in our garden and a few other plants that give flowers for picking, but they must all take their chances with no external help from us. In our garden, catterpillars, aphids and other creepy crawlies are welcome, because they are part of the food chain required for a healthy ecosystem.
A word of caution though. Just because it is indigenous doesn’t mean that it is right for your garden. For example, they have found that some species of Protea on table mountain have hybridised with Proteas from other regions that are grown in people’s gardens. It is therefore important, when planting an indigenous garden, to be sure of the source of your plants. Although a particular species may grow naturally in the Midlands, it would not be a good idea to plant one grown from seeds collected in Zululand.
Imagine a day when our gardens and open spaces in Howick will have a full range of forest birds, including the endangered Cape Parrot, as well as dassies, mongoose, bush babies and antelope. A day when people will come to Howick specifically to visit our vibrant gardens and amazing animal and bird life. It is entirely possible and certainly not a pipe dream, provided that residents, businesses and the Municipality are committed to the process.
We, and others, have already started the process in our gardens and, under the auspices of the Dusi-Umngeni Conservation Trust (www.duct.org.za), have planted 200 trees on the river bank at the entrance to Howick. Our goal is to find funding for more planting and to employ a full-time team to keep the river clean and do ongoing planting to replace alien the invasives that are being removed by the Working for Water Programme.
In addition, we will be helped by a DUCT partner organisation, “A Rocha”. A Rocha is based in Pietermatizburg and is KZN's newest conservation organisation, working to show God's love for creation. A Rocha refers to a place in Portugal where its conservation work originated, and means, "The Rock". A Rocha partners with DUCT in projects that include rehabilitation of the Msunduzi River's inner city riparian zone. A Rocha members have one locally indigenous tree or shrub planted in their name, as part of their membership fee, annually. In September 2007, during the annual cleanup day, A Rocha will participate with us to plant more trees in degraded areas in Howick
Rural Zulus live either as worker-tenants on white-owned farms or in communal areas where they live a hand-to-mouth existence with most men going off to work in towns, often on the mines.
Approximately half the 15,307 km2 of land in Zululand falls under the jurisdiction of traditional Authorities, while the other half is divided between commercially-owned farms and conservation areas. The area was defined as a "homeland" area during apartheid and, as such, was deliberately deprived of infrastructure investment and other economic incentives. Subsequent to the 1994 election, Ulundi became the administrative capital of the provincial legislature.
However, when the ANC took control of the province from the IFP in May 2004, the administrative capital was moved from Ulundi to Pietermaritzburg. Zululand remains one of the poorest regions in the country; in 2004 it had a GDP per capita of only R7,085, as compared to an average GDP per capita of R16,459 across 16 other rural-inland districts in South Africa. The unemployment rate in Zululand in 2004 was 56 %, as compared to an average of 37 % across the group of 16 similar rural-inland District Municipalities. In 2004, Government services were the single largest economic driver in the Zululand District, accounting for 25 % of the District's total economic output. The government services sector has almost certainly declined, in both absolute and relative terms, since 2004, when Ulundi lost its role as the administrative arm of provincial government. Government services also generated the largest share of formal sector employment in the district; 16,195 people were employed in the sector in 2004. The largest non-governmental sectors in the district are finance and business services (15 %) and agriculture (13 %). However, it seems likely that the finance and business sector chiefly serviced the administrative capital and one would, therefore, expect that the sector has suffered a similarly devastating decline since 2004. Informal sector activity provides the majority of employment in the Zululand District (58 % in 2004); of the 51,443 jobs in the informal sector, 20,071 are in agriculture and a further 16,773 in wholesale and retail activities (Economic Baseline Study for Ten Nominated Districts in KwaZulu-Natal, Prepared for The Department of Economic Development KwaZulu-Natal, WFA Pty Ltd and Graham Muller Associates).
As a result of the limited economic activities, the Zululand District has extensive poverty, lack of accessibility to basic services and facilities, and is dramatically feeling the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Although the District has a limited economic base, there has beena potential for growth in two sectors: tourism (in particular) and agriculture.
Now with the addition of the opportunity to reclaim and salvage forgotten woods the Zulus have a third potential for growth.