VE Berg Trip 6

09 Jul 2015 19:20 #64504 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic VE Berg Trip 6
I was chatting to a plantation manager and he gave me an interesting stat - he said that every pine tree consumes roughly 300 litres of water every day. So if you consider how many trees you guys have sorted and how much water that equates to every year - that is really quite something!

What bugs me is the fact that there is a massive gum plantation at Garden Castle and Bushman's Nek car park. While the forest is awesome and indigenous trees take forever to grow, the longer it takes for these trees to be removed and replaced with indigenous trees, the longer it will take to get to a point where we can park below a yellowwood forest rather than a gum forest. Being at a car park, it really can't be that hard for EKZN to get this done.

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14 Jul 2015 20:57 - 14 Jul 2015 21:04 #64545 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic VE Berg Trip 6

Richard Hunt wrote: Hello intrepid, thanks for shedding the light on which authorities are busy with the Drakensberg alien invader problem. It seems that they are just starting to realize the magnitude of this problem in the Drakensberg. I am going to contact Doug Burden from DUCT.... www.duct.org.za/ and chat to him about this issue. He is ex Parks Board and during his time he walked the GT before it was called GT, and this was a patrol of the Parks Board boundary.....those were the days!!!!! Thanks for your great effort and I am sure many new VE Berg Trip volunteers to follow :thumbsup:


I think VE's involvement has highlighted the problem, and has helped them asses the true extent of the encroachment. And I believe that heightened public concern and involvement will create more impetus to tackle the problem. We are definitely engaging the authorities on this one and we will keep reporting the issues we are seeing. Personally I am very concerned about the wattle, which we are starting to notice more in various areas such as the Mlambonja valley. Pine is straightforward enough and can be controlled through persistent effort, but the wattle really troubles me.

An article about our recent trip and the work we are doing will probably be published in the local magazine for the Champagne Valley - hopefully this will spark more interest too.

ghaznavid wrote: What bugs me is the fact that there is a massive gum plantation at Garden Castle and Bushman's Nek car park. While the forest is awesome and indigenous trees take forever to grow, the longer it takes for these trees to be removed and replaced with indigenous trees, the longer it will take to get to a point where we can park below a yellowwood forest rather than a gum forest. Being at a car park, it really can't be that hard for EKZN to get this done.

In principle, yes, would be nice to start phasing these out, though I haven't observed any aggressive invasion by the gums up the valleys thankfully (please let me know if anyone does see this anywhere though!).

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 14 Jul 2015 21:04 by intrepid.

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15 Jul 2015 21:17 - 15 Jul 2015 21:20 #64558 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic VE Berg Trip 6
Regards the alien tree problem, Elinda and myself hiked at Vergelegen this past week end, a seldom visited part of the Berg due to bad access roads. From the beginning of the gate into the park for 9 kms to the wildlife office the mountains are extremely choked up by silver wattle. It saddened me to see this. I asked the ranger at the office what he thought of this problem and he told me that the battle has been lost to wattle at Vergelegen, as it is spreading rapidly!! From the office for 7 kms up the Mkhomazi Valley towards the main Berg there was wattle every where. The last wattle tree is only 6 kms from the base of the main escarpment. As a farmer who yearly spends alot of time successfully eradicating alien trees off the farm, I realized that the battle has been lost in the Vergelegen area as this problem has been left for too long. Most of the trees are not older than 10 to 12 years old so this is clear evidence of bad management practices by the new Wildlife Department in the last 20 years.....and most probably a reflection of the whole Drakensberg area. I might sound negative but this is the truth!! The following 2 photos were taken only 6 kms from the main escarpment and all the trees you see are Wattle and in the second photo a batch of Pines at the top and Wattles throttling indigenous species below. It is such a problem, where and how can one begin to start!!!


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Last edit: 15 Jul 2015 21:20 by Richard Hunt.

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16 Jul 2015 06:54 - 16 Jul 2015 06:55 #64560 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic VE Berg Trip 6
Indeed I have seen those wattle, and it is very scary. Definitely during that last 8 years some work was done in that valley from what I can see, but walking by several of the sites about a year or two ago, regrowth was happening everywhere. Eradication may not be a realistic short-term goal but it certainly needs to be managed and contained. Will follow this up with KZN Wildlife when I get an opportunity.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 16 Jul 2015 06:55 by intrepid.

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16 Jul 2015 10:10 #64564 by deszn
Replied by deszn on topic VE Berg Trip 6
Well done guys. So much passion and effort is rare nowadays. :thumbsup:

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