Trees in EKZNW campsites

07 Nov 2018 08:55 #74178 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
absolute madness.

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08 Nov 2018 16:05 #74191 by GriffBaker
Replied by GriffBaker on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
I emailed some of the Conservation managers with regards to the eradication of Exotics from the Campsites. Dumisani, Vergelegen OIC's returned my mail, which I thank him for. 

A company is removing the trees out of the kindness of their hearts. Make of that what you will.

Hi Justine, I think your source of information has not done much investigation as to how this trees are being removed. You are quiet correct in your point of funds shortage but , the removal of the trees is not done by Ezemvelo but it’s a private company who are in other hand helping Ezemvelo without any payment made to them. Secondly meetings were held and plans on what will be done to replace this trees were noted, which soon after the eradication that phase will then be implemented. I short the alien plans will be replaced by indigenous trees. The other issue which was considered was that this trees are very old and poses a threat to campers during windy months, imagine such a big tree gets blown on a campers tent at night what would happen to occupant in that tent or caravan. This people are doing it for free nothing is paid to them by Ezemvelo for your clarity but, thanks for raising it and now that you know the reason , you can pass the correct information to others who are on the same boat like you. The area (camp site ) is going to look bad now but , at a later stage when indigenous trees are planted, a new natural feature of the area will take place and that is what the Organization is focusing on. Hope you will bear with us for this short time but, I promise you will like it at a later stage. Thanks Dumisani MpontshaneOiC VergelegenMaloti Drakensberg Park SouthPhone: 0310015042
Cell: 0827629884
email: Website:

Dear Ezemvelo Conservation Management Team
I am writing this email as a person who, along with many has a deep passion for the Drakensberg. I am a member of the  hiking community as well as a registered hiking guide.I am seeking clarification as to the reasons for the eradication program that is currently being undertaken with regards to Alien trees in the KZN Wildlife camps.The trees in the camps may be Alien but most of them are not invasive. they are not spreading. Most of the trees are as old as the cottages and infrastructure at the camps themselves as I am sure you all must know. They have also become an unmistakable part of the 'charm' of many of the campsites along with providing protection from wind, and security in storms for campers.My question is: Why is KZN Wildlife investing such large amounts of money in the Alien eradication of relatively benign trees when the Ukhahlamba has much more immediate threats such as Invasive pine in the deeper valleys' of the mountains along with rampant poaching and smuggling issues?It seems a shame and at the same time, very narrow sighted that KZN Wildlife has painted the issue of Alien plants in the berg with a broad brush. Surely Wattle, Gum, pine and bramble infestations are of primary concern?Certain members of the hiking community invest their own time and money in helping to volunteer to eradicate the more serious Pine invasives.When the Drakensberg is pillaged of its resources by poaching and human encroachment, lack of funding is quickly used as an excuse. Yet here we have what can only be a very substantial and expensive contract being undertaken using up valuable funds. So clearly funding for more rangers and patrols is not an issue then?Please, can somebody provide clarity on this issue? I would like to provide feedback to others that share my concerns.Kind Regards
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09 Nov 2018 09:28 #74195 by Dave
Replied by Dave on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
Indeed: "...who are in other hand helping Ezemvelo..." - an unhappy turn of phrase considering the way government bodies are often reported to handle the contracting of work. Thanks for inquiring, GriffBaker.

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09 Nov 2018 17:11 - 09 Nov 2018 20:33 #74200 by WilliamP
Replied by WilliamP on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
The impact of this eradication of alien invasive trees from the campsites and surrounding area's may not look great to us, but think of your children and grandchildren who will have the benefit in the years to come. Its has been shown that invasive alien tree species have a negative effect on all components of biological diversity, from genes to whole ecosystems.

The eradication of alien invasive plants is also a Law, as it should be, and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is not exempt from such laws.
Last edit: 09 Nov 2018 20:33 by WilliamP.

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10 Nov 2018 08:34 #74201 by Richard Hunt
I am still not bought by what is going on in the Drakensberg Park. A reply email from the OiC at Vergelegen has been posted in this discussion and I wonder if he can promise that something will be done about invasive trees in the Park, especially Vergelegen. Vergelegen is no longer a national world heritage treasure but a disgrace, so much so that it could lose its UNESCO World Heritage listing for not being managed correctly. If I was a ranger in Vergelegen I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that the wattles have nearly reached the base of the main escarpment. This is what's going to ruin the Drakensberg for our future generations, not a few non invasive exotic trees around the camp sites & resorts. The company felling the trees will make money from the timber, so as mentioned they definitely should not be paid for cutting down these trees. My passion for the Berg sometimes runs away with me!!
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15 Nov 2018 22:52 #74207 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
Thank you GriffBaker for writing to EKZNW and posting back here. I encourage everyone to engage them about things which concern you. Contact them, ask them questions, challenge them on issues, suggest solutions to them, and report things to them which you may have seen on your recent hike. Their contact details can be found here:

I also suspect that the company doing the work will sell the timber. I am not sure if alien tree removal from the wilderness areas of the park can be done in a way that offers some commercial benefit for doing it. If there is a way, this is certainly one way of speeding up the work. Without this, the work is largely dependent on government resources (eg Working For Water and Working On Fire) and on grants from environmental organisations that employ local people (this is how some of the alien plant eradication is done in the AmaNgwane and AmaZizi areas).

The issue of wattle is a troubling one, and yes Vergelegen in particular is cause for real concern. If anyone has done the Mehloding Trail in the Eastern Cape Berg, you can see just how bad it can get if left unchecked. How do we cope with wattle invasion? The little I know about it, the invasion is aggressive, treatment isn't easy and it has to be repeated to keep rapid regrowth suppressed. In the Mnweni locals use the wood and are encouraged to do it, but even so the wattle is spreading. In the case of pine trees, it was easy for us to say we would do something about it ourselves - and we did. The treatment is easier, with a much higher success rate and the regrowth is slower. For small volunteer groups, pine trees are perfect. I am not sure if this is the case with wattle. I'm also not sure if cases like Vergelegen can even be brought under control without major intervention.

While the issue of alien plant invasion in the wilderness areas of the park doesn't fall within the current topic of the trees being cut down at the campsites, it is the topic that fuels the reaction to the trees being cut down. The question for me is, what can be done about it? What can we do?

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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16 Nov 2018 17:10 #74208 by Herman
Replied by Herman on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
I've weeded a lot of areas in the Magaliesberg that Working for Water covered, and unfortunately, they didn't always do a great job. I don't blame them though -  working for a low hourly wage with little supervision is difficult. I think some of the shortcomings might be addressed through a microwork app. The worker takes a geotagged photograph of the weed/tree before and after treatment. The images are uploaded to a database, and reviewers approve or reject the work. If it is approved, the person gets paid Rx, depending on how much work it was. (R1 for pompom, R100 per pine, etc.). It isn't a commercially viable business model - you'd still need funding. But I suspect it would be more effective and create more employment than WfW, as well as providing valuable data on the infestation hotspots.
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13 Mar 2019 15:02 - 13 Mar 2019 15:11 #74779 by GriffBaker
Replied by GriffBaker on topic Trees in EKZNW campsites
Hi all
A very thorough response from Dr Sonja Kruger with regards to the removal of exotics at campsites.

Dear Mr Baker I am responding to an email you sent to our management team in November last year (below). I was reminded at a recent management meeting that I had undertaken to respond to your email which Sibongiseni Khoza had forwarded to me. My apologies for only replying now, it completely slipped my mind and your email was lost in my inbox. Dumisane Mpontshane did respond at the time and I would just like to add to the information that he provided.

The Integrated Management Plan for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park gives policy direction for the management of alien plant species in tourism and management nodes. The aim is to remove alien plant species in tourism and management nodes, replace them with locally appropriate indigenous species, and ensure that no further introductions of non-indigenous species takes place. 

This will be undertaken through a phased programme which we have embarked on. Priority will be given to Category 1a, 1b, 2 and 3 alien plants as listed in the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations. Ornamental trees serving no useful function will be removed. Fruit trees that are/may be attracting problem animals e.g. baboons will be removed. Non-invasive ornamental trees that are serving a practical shade/ windbreak/ aesthetic function will be removed in a phased approach, by agreement on a case-by-case basis (where good reason is provided some trees may by agreement be retained until their natural death). KZN indigenous species that have been planted but which are not indigenous to the Drakensberg will also be removed- for example the Acacia species you mention at Lotheni which are also not ideal shade trees for camping. 

While some may see these trees as part of the charm of the Park, these plants are responsible for many problems including:· 
  • An ageing cohort of large exotic trees are starting to die and pose a risk to tourists, staff and infrastructure with increasing number of trees falling over or from falling dead branches.· 
  • In many instances these trees are blocking iconic tourist views of the mountains.· 
  • Preventing lawn growing in campsites with resulting soil erosion, effectively reducing the number of suitable campsites and creating a risk to visitors who trip over the roots; the bare earth also causes siltation of rivers.· 
  • In several stations staff spend a lot of time raking and disposing of leaves from deciduous alien trees; in this time of staff shortages these staff could be better used doing other tasks.·
  •  In some cases trees are damaging the foundations and structures of protected historic buildings, and tourism and management buildings.· 
  • Fruit and nut trees are attracting baboons to the tourist and management nodes, increasing the nuisance and health risk to visitors, and ultimately resulting in more baboons having to be killed.· 
  • Some tree species that were planted are spreading, threatening the biodiversity and water production values of the Park.
 We have partnered with the Value Added Industries unit of the EDTEA Invasive Alien Species Programme. This programme is a job creation programme that uses timber from alien trees to create school desks for rural schools, cheap coffins and other furniture. This programme fells the trees and remove the timber at no cost to Ezemvelo. Waste wood that they cannot use will be cut into smaller pieces and offered to local communities and/or will be used to supply staff with fire wood. The programme also employs some neighbouring local people at each station where they will work. Indigenous plant nurseries will be created to grow indigenous plants for creating replacement indigenous gardens. These gardens, such as have already been created at Giants Castle, will ultimately be more attractive to visitors, more attractive to wildlife and pose fewer risks than what they replace. 

Overall, this programme will improve the tourism product, reduce liability and improve compliance.I hope the above information provides the feedback that you require Kind regards

This image is hidden for guests.

Dr. Sonja KrügerPark Ecologist: uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World 
Last edit: 13 Mar 2019 15:11 by GriffBaker. Reason: Paragraphs
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13 Mar 2019 19:18 #74782 by Richard Hunt
I don't buy this whatsoever!!! If one walks often in the Berg it is very obvious. The problem is not a few exotic, non invasive species around resorts and camp sites. The problem are the pines and wattles that are spreading at an alarming rate in the very heart of the mountains. Maybe the authorities don't get as far as the mountains, so don't actually know the extent of the invasion. Some parts of the Berg are already lost to invasive pines and wattle, some are in a better state and can be reversed. This invasion has got progressively out of hand in the last 20 years odd, makes one think about what the future holds. I will continue to be negative about Berg management, until I see something positive and real done about this problem. The VE pine tree gang are doing amazing work but this is just a drop in the ocean. Our towns and cities cannot even keep themselves clean and well managed and many towns have become a disgrace due to mismanagement......the same pattern as we see in the Berg.
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