Signs alert public to bark stripping in Newlands Forest

At one of the newly unveiled signs warning about bark stripping, from left, are SANParks ranger Warren Sable, Newlands Forest Conservation Group member Keri Muller, SANParks ranger Mathabatha Matjila and Newlands Forest Conservation Group member Neil Williamson.

News signs have been posted in Newlands Forest to warn the public about the threat of bark stripping there.

The signage was unveiled by SANParks and the Newlands Forest Conservation Group on Tuesday August 30.

Numerous bark-stripping incidents in the forest have been reported, according to SANParks spokeswoman Babalwa Dlangamandla.

“This has a huge impact on forest diversity as trees die a slow death due to the interruption of the nutritional transport system,” she said.

The new signs describe bark stripping as the illegal harvesting of tree bark by poachers. The bark is sold to traditional healers or transported to other parts of the country and sold at markets. The signs note that the poachers often take the bark from the full circumference of the tree, a practice known as ring-barking, which leads to the death of the tree.

Ms Dlangamandla said SANParks rangers applied a paste to stripped trees in an effort to heal them, but the survival rate was low and most bark-stripped trees rotted and died.

The new signage informs the public about bark stripping in the forest and how to report incidents.

Co-founder of Newlands Forest Conservation Group Neil Williamson said most visitors to Newlands Forest were unaware of the problem and the impact of bark stripping on the small remaining pockets of precious indigenous forest.

“Newlands Forest Conservation Group is hopeful that the new signage will help raise awareness amongst the public about this complicated issue,” he said.

Volunteers from the Newlands Forest Conservation Group created the graphic design that was used in the signage, while SANParks paid for the manufacture and installation, he said.

Table Mountain National Park manager Frans van Rooyen thanked the Newlands Forest Conservation Group for helping to tackle “the scourge of bark stripping activities at Newlands Forest while creating awareness to the public about the devastating impact of bark stripping”.

Bark stripping can be reported to 086 110 6417 or email Newlands.Fieldrangers@sanparks.org

The new signs can be found at the Littlewort trail entrance, Stone Bridge, the Round Table picnic site on the contour path, the Middelpad gravel road and Maretha Park Bench area.

The bark-stripping signage at Newlands Forest.