Farmers Weekly

Jan 2013

By Lloyd Phillips

A team of eight expert tree climbers from around the world are climbing a number of South Africa’s officially protected Champion Trees to measure them accurately and highlight the need to protect the country’s arboreal heritage.farmersweekly012013

Three of these trees, the Magoebaskloof Triplets in Limpopo (saligna gums) are the tallest planted trees in the world with the highest reaching 79m.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the team will climb several venerable yellowwood trees towering above the canopy of the Western Cape’s Knysna forests, as well as giant iconic baobabs in Limpopo’s Vhembe district.

“More than 70 trees and groups of trees have been declared by DAFF as Champion trees, based on the criteria such as size, age and historical value,” said DAFF spokesperson Steve Galane. “They are all protected under the National Forests Act of 1998.”

The team of self described tree addicts comprises: David Wiles (team leader), Stephen Fry and Geoff Pugsley of the UK, Drew Bristow and Greg Parker of New Zealand, Rob Fisher of Australia, Vince Jolin of Canada, and Leon Visser of South Africa.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly by cell phone from halfway us the Dalene Matthee Big Tree, a 38m-tall Outeniqua yellowwood in Knysna’s Goudveld Forest, Visser said: “Getting to climb these trees is a wonderful privilege that not many people experience. One also gets to see the world from a different perspective up here”    

                 Leon Visser of Stellenbosch, near the top

                 of the Dalene Matthee Tree in Knysna's

                 Goudveld Forest