Local Climber Scales Tallest Tree in Africa.

Eikestad News

January 2013

“The Tallest planted tree in Africa”

That is what an expedition of an international team of tree climbers discovered in January when they scaled some of the tallest champion trees in the country and measured the tallest one so far – a full 81.5 meters!

The team named the event Explore the Ancient Trees of Africa Expedition. Amoungst them was the well-known eikestadjan21013 newStellenbosch tree climber and owner of Trees Unlimited, Leon Visser. In 2011 Visser climbed and measured what was then thought to be the highest planted tree – 80m tall – situated in Magoebaskloof, Mpumalanga. This tree, a Eucalyptus Saligna gum, is one of the Magoebaskloof Trio, the tallest measured trees in the Woodbush state forest. These gum trees were all planted in 1906 and were known for being the tallest trees on the African Continent.

The latest expedition ended on a “high” note on 26 January when the ream climbed the Magoebaskloof Trio and noticed another seemingly taller tree, next to the Trio. Visser swung across to the tree, scaled it and now it is the new champion of champions, standing at an unbelievable 81.5 m! This gum tree would tower above a building of 26 storeys, and is officially the new African record breaker.

The previous record holder was measured again and the new measurement indicates a growth rate of about 20-30cm per year. Visser, is however, convinced there are even taller trees still to be discovered in Magoebaskloof.

On 28 January the team scaled a stand of rose gum trees at the Satico plantation near Barberton. Despite being 30 years younger than the centenarian trees at Woodbush, these trees measured 72.3m in height, thereby earning them the status of the second tallest trees in the country and perhaps, the fastest growing trees locally.

For team leader, David Wiles of Britain, this expedition was a “once in a lifetime” event – the first of its kind in Africa and the first to be officially linked to a Champion Tree project anywhere in the world. Visser, who serves on the Champion Tree evaluation panel said the greatest value of this expedition was perhaps the awareness it created of our tree heritage.