Eikestadnuus Friday 9 September 2011

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80 Meter Giant Conquered!

High above the earth: here is Leon Visser at the foot of the tallest tree ever measured in Africa – a whole 80 meters high! This is third of three giants bluegums that are now called the Magoebaskloof Triplets were recently conquered by Leon. This tree is nearly twice as tall as the 200 year old Norfolk pine (45m) in the front of the Kweekskool in Dorpstreet!

 

Leon Visser still climbs higher

High, higher, highest

Every weekend you will find him in a tree, and the higher the better. And now Leon Visser, Stellenbosch tree specialist and owner of Trees Unlimited, recently climbed the tallest measured tree in Africa – and that in appalling weather conditions.eikestadnuus2011 top

Leon and his ally in tree climbing and tree measuring projects, prof Brian Bredenkamp, emeritus professor in forest management at Stellenbosch University has already climbed and measured the tallest trees in and around Stellenbosch. The tallest tree measured so far is a 54m high gum called “Helsehoogte” on the Helshoogte pass.

The two were recently invited by the Dept of Agriculture and Forestry to measure the three Mexican pines (Pinus oocarpa) planted in 1905 in Magoebaskloof.   Due to their age and size, it was decided to nominate them as champion trees which is part of the South African Champion Tree project .

Two Sydney – gums (Eucalyptus saligna) , the “Magoebaskloof Twins”, which are growing nearby were climbed in 2011 by Visser-Bredenkamp partnership and these then received champion status. They were subsequently hailed as the tallest planted bluegums in the world.

Leon and company were flown up to Johannesburg and then drove up to Magoebaskloof. The whole tree climbing project was funded by Stihl (South Africa).

On the 14 August Leon climbed the first of the pines in good weather. While he measured it at 50 meters above ground, prof Bredenakmp and Stuart Perks preferred to stay on mother earth! – the girth and crown spread of the trees were also measured.

The second largest pine tree was measured the next day, on 15 August in rainy weather. Nevertheless, Leon made short eikestadnuus2011 bottomwork of the tree and measured it at 50.3m with a girth of 4.25m. The third tree was not climbed as it was considerably shorter although its other measurements were noted. These “Three Matrons” as they are called, fulfill the strict criteria to make champion tree status.

After this was completed, Leon still had time in hand and decided to tackle a bluegum he happened to see from the top of the Magoebaskloof Twins back in 2008 and which looked even taller than the 78.9m and 79.5m trees.

It was cold and wet though with the trunk of the tree very slippery – much more so than for the pines which had rougher bark. The lowest branch was also more than 30m high, and could only be reached with a giant slingshot to enable his rope to be anchored! It took Leon almost 2 hours to eventually get to the top. The end of the measuring tape was tied on to the rope and hauled up right to the top – and so prof Brian came to read off 80m – which means this is the tallest measured tree in Africa.

The Magoebaskloof Twins had now became triplets.   And the man who climbed the tallest tree in Africa is aching to now climb the tallest tree on each continent.