2019 Clanwilliam Cedar tree planting event a resounding success
The morning of Saturday, 18 May dawned bright, clear and cold as stakeholders, local community members, members of the media and general conservation enthusiasts converged to plant Clanwilliam cedar seedlings on a rock-strewn mountainside in the Cederberg Wilderness.
The occasion was the Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis: Cupressaceae) tree planting event, a partnership between CapeNature, the Bushmanskloof Wilderness Resort and the Heuningvlei community. The annual event has been taking place since 2003 to raise awareness of the plight of the Clanwilliam Cedar tree.
The Cederberg mountains are the only place in the world where the Clanwilliam Cedar grows. The Clanwilliam Cedar is currently listed as an endangered species and the community tree planting event helps to ensure that ongoing survival of the species.
Heuningvlei was selected as the location because the Clanwilliam Cedar tree has the best chance of survival in rocky areas of 900 meters and higher above sea level where the mature trees and seedlings are protected from fire. Special planting methods ensure that the saplings survive the harsh weather conditions, with saplings taking 30 years before they are able to produce any seeds.
CapeNature Cederberg Wilderness Conservation Manager Rika du Plessis spoke about the importance of raising awareness about the plight of this endangered species, “This particular tree only grows here in the Cederberg and can only be found in this part of the world. It is endemic to this area. Over 200 years ago you would have found these trees all over the Cederberg, but this number has significantly dropped due to climate change”.
Over the last hundred years the cedars have been felled by human for use in construction while frequent fires and climate change have further ravaged the species and pushed it to the brink of extinction but with the aid of the community and willing partners like Bushmanskloof Wilderness Resort, there is hope that the Clanwilliam Cedar numbers will continue to increase steadily.