Help save the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree

by CapeNature

On Saturday 16 May 2015 members of the public will have the opportunity to join a unique conservation event in the Cederberg Wilderness Area, when the annual Clanwilliam Cedar tree planting ceremony will take place in the rural village of Heuningvlei.

Now in its 14th year, the initiative is presented by Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, in association with CapeNature, in an effort to help save the endemic Clanwilliam cedar tree, which is categorised as Critically Endangered on the Red Data List. To date, the Cedar Tree Project has planted more than 1000 young cedar trees in the Cederberg area.


CapeNature’s Conservation Manager at the Cederberg Wilderness Area, Patrick Lane (above), will once again be leading the Cedar Tree planting, which will take place up in the mountains of the Cederberg. Also present will be members of the local Botanical Society, Wildflower Society as well as the Cederberg Conservancy, while local schools will bring along their school children for a day of environmental and conservation education.

CapeNature CEO, Dr Razeena Omar, who was present at the 2014 planting ceremony, spoke of the importance of the event. “The Clanwilliam cedar is a vital part of the biodiversity in the Cederberg region, and events like this planting ceremony are a wonderful way to raise awareness for conservation efforts in the area.”

The day will begin at 9am, when each person attending will be able to plant their own cedar tree in the wilderness area up in the mountains, an exhilirating activity that will allow guests to not only make a difference, but to also take in the stunning sights of the Cederberg, a part of the country that is easy to fall in love with.


Staff distribute Cedar plants to be planted by guests during the 2014 Cedar Tree planting day

After that, guests will be treated to lunch while the Bushmans Kloof Riel Dance Champions provide entertainment, with the programme winding down at 3pm. The event is open to the public, children are welcome and entrance is free. However, bookings are essential. For enquiries and bookings to attend the Cedar Tree Event please call Bushmans Kloof on Tel (021) 481 1863 or email

About the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree and Cederberg Wilderness Area conservation

Cedar tree - Cederberg - Western Cape - South Africa

A Clanwilliam Cedar Tree. Image by Scott N Ramsay

The endemic Clanwilliam cedar tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) occurs only in the Cederberg mountains, 270km north of Cape Town. It represents one of 1000 surviving conifer species in the world. The number of trees has declined dramatically over the past two centuries, partly due to unsustainable exploitation and partly due to an increase in fire frequency. The species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, hence it has been categorised as Critically Endangered on the Red Data List.

The Cederberg was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973. A reserve of about 5 250 hectares was established in 1987 to prevent the extinction of the area’s namesake: the Clanwilliam cedar tree.

Over several centuries, these trees were felled for construction activities and telephone poles. Frequent fires also ravaged the species to the point of near extinction. CapeNature works with partners and volunteers to plant cedar seedlings in the mountains. Each year, volunteers help plant about 8 000 nursery-grown young trees in the reserve.

In 1988, the Cederberg Wilderness Area was established as the centre of a leopard management area to protect leopards by minimising conflict between stock farming and nature conservation.

To protect the Cederberg’s rich heritage and extraordinary biodiversity, CapeNature and local landowners set up the Cederberg and Biedouw conservancies on the border of the wilderness area, covering about 312 000 hectares of private and state land.

One Comment

  • riyaz nakhwa

    October 19, 2017 11:45 am

    have always been fascinated with the Cedar trees and their unique characteristics. their cousins in the Atlas mountains are on the National flag of Lebanon. I spent time doing my MSc thesis on the geohydrology of the Cederberg in 2005. at that time I had the idea of staged re-forestation of the cedars and was so pleased to see this is already a reality with the CapeNature initiatives.
    How can I become involved in this annual initiative?
    best of luck


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