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Conservationists families and schools gather for the 15th annual Clanwilliam Cedar tree planting ceremony

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat (Bushmans Kloof), in association with The TreadRight Foundation, CapeNature and the local Heuningvlei community, once again pulled out all the stops to host the 15th Annual Clanwilliam Cedar Tree Planting Ceremony.

At the event held on 20 May 2017, 200 trees were planted in the rural village of Heuningvlei. Around 300 conservationists, school children and families from all over the Western Cape, joined this unique conservation initiative aimed at preserving the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar Tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). Although not all have survived, since inception, about 2000 trees have been planted - 1800 trees in the wilderness and a further 200 trees in the groves at Heuningvlei.

The ceremony also included the planting of cedar seeds by local school-children, that will be nurtured in the Bushmans Kloof nursery and transplanted safely back into the Wilderness, in the future.

The endemic Clanwilliam Cedar Tree, listed as critically endangered on the Red Data List, faces extinction partly due to unsustainable exploitation, lack of water and regular bush fires in the area. Rory du Plessis, general manager at Bushmans Kloof says, “This project is a great example of teamwork, a massive contributing factor to its success and popularity. The ceremony represents a deep commitment by all involved, to saving this special tree - a vital part of the Cederberg region’s biodiversity.”

The Cedar Tree project is just one of five sustainability projects that Bushmans Kloof is actively involved in, with support from The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit supported by The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands that works to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come.

Additional Bushmans Kloof sustainability projects include protection and preservation of the indigenous Cape Leopard; saving the Cape Mountain Zebra from extinction; conserving the Clanwilliam Yellowfish and preserving and protecting over 130 unique rockart sites, some dating back 10 000 years.

The Cederberg, situated just over three hours from Cape Town, is a World Heritage Site. Besides being the only home of the Clanwilliam Ceder Tree, it’s also home to mountain fynbos, including the laurel protea, the red disa, rooibos and the rare snow protea.

MORE ABOUT THE CLANWILLIAM CEDAR TREE AND PROJECT

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 drought and fire frequency.

The species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, hence its categorisation as endangered on the Red Data List. The Cedar Tree Project has taken on even more significance following devastating fires that raged through the Cederberg in January 2013 when three different fires destroyed close to 30% of the Cederberg Wilderness area. The planting of Cedar trees in suitable rocky areas has thus been greatly emphasised in areas that are natural fire exclusion zones within the mountains.

The first event was held in 2003 at Bushmans Kloof. CapeNature provided about 20, 2-4 year old that were planted on the property by volunteers and children from Elizabethfontein school; approximately 1000 seeds were also planted on that day. The idea was to propagate the seeds and use the seedlings to plant in the grove at Bushmans Kloof and to start a grove at Heuningvlei village. However, Eland ate the trees on the reserve, so the following year (2004) the grove at Heuningvlei was laid out. In 2005, seedlings were planted into the Wilderness in the koppies above Heuningvlei for the first time and this has been the venue for the event ever since.

MORE ABOUT TreadRight

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain for generations to come. Founded by Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, TTC, to date TreadRight has supported more than 40 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. As an official Diamond Sponsor of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, TTC is dedicated to bringing the industry together with a shared goal of benefitting local communities and the environment.

To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit us at www.TreadRight.org