‘Forestry’ error explained

2015-10-21 06:00

IN Amanzimtoti Fever’s 30 September issue, under the heading “The importance of trees”, we erroneously stated “Last week saw the start of the governments controversial exit programme to cut down 45 000 ha of Knysna’s Yellowwood forests” and “Government plans to replace the forests with Eucalyptus plantations.” The error is as a result of confusion between plantation forestry (state- owned plantation forestry) and natural forest. Ecologist Pieter du Plessis was referring to state-owned plantation forestry.

Referring to the 14th World Forestry Congress, Pieter du Plessis stated: “...The exit policy stated clearly that cabinet took a decision to exit 45 000 hectares of the 70 000 hectares of plantation forestry in the Southern Cape (Knysna, George, Plettenberg Bay etc. and other parts of the Western Cape. Western Cape. “These areas were to be converted to agriculture, housing and conservation.”

Later in his speech, Pieter du Plessis­ also stated: “It is on record that an official from the government has said on TV that the indigenous trees of South Africa takes to long to grow, whilst the exotic trees takes less time to grow.”

• Pieter du Plessis’s full speech is available on request. Len du Plessis of the South African National Parks (SANParks) puts the government’s exit strategy in context:

“In June 2001, cabinet took a decision concerning the decommissioning of certain uneconomical State owned plantations situated across the Western and Southern Cape. “The decision eventually had a bearing on about 20 000 ha of State Forest land used for plantation forestry (not indigenous forests). “The plantations would be clear-felled in stages over a period of 20 years, where after the land will be converted into areas for conservation, agriculture etc.

“The Indigenous Forests on State Forest Land was assigned to SANParks for management and now from part of the Garden Route National Park.”

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