In South Africa there are currently 47 protected tree species in terms of the National Forests Act, (No. 84 of 1998), as amended. You can view the list of trees at http://saforestryonline.co.za/indigenous/protected-trees-in-south-africa/ The National Forests Act provides special measures for the protection of certain forests and trees.
What are the criteria to select a tree for inclusion in the protected tree list?
- Red List Status (rare or threatened species);
- Keystone Species Value (whether species play a dominant role in an ecosystem’s functioning);
- Sustainability of Use (whether a species is threatened by heavy use of its products such as timber, bark etc.);
- Cultural or Spiritual Importance (outstanding landscape value or spiritual meaning attached to certain tree species); and
- Other Legislation (whether a species is already adequately protected by other legislation).
What activities relating to indigenous trees and protected areas are not allowed without a license, relevant legislation or Gazette exemption?
You may not cut, disturb, destroy, damage or remove any indigenous tree in a natural forest or any forest produce in a declared protected area. You may not collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate, or in any other matter acquire or dispose of any indigenous tree, or any forest product derived from a natural forest or declared protected area. If you want to undertake any activity relating to an indigenous tree in a natural forest or forest produce in a declared protected area, you must apply for a license from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; or an exemption as published by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Gazette; or relevant legislation.
What can happen if you conduct any activity relating to an indigenous tree or protected area without a license, relevant legislation or Gazette exemption?
In terms of Section 62 and 63 of the National Forests Act, a person who is found guilty of a first category offence can be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for a period of up to three years, or both a fine and such imprisonment. A person who is found guilty of a second, third, fourth and fifth category offense may also be sentenced to imprisonment, a fine, community service; or a combination of, per the category of offence as stated in the National Forests Act. For any offence in terms of this Act, the court, which sentenced the person may also suspend or revoke a license granted to the offender.
It is the responsibility of each citizen to protect the natural heritage of South Africa!
Follow-up article on the trees of the year for 2018 – Theresa du Preez
Next article – Do you have insurance cover for trees that have fallen over on your property?