After several bark-stripping incidents in and around Durbanville, the City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department has embarked on a project to paint the trunks of trees at risk of being bark-stripped in Durbanville CBD.
“The extent and destruction of trees in the Durbanville CBD has risen at an alarming rate recently. After several bark-stripping incidents, the Recreation and Parks Department has embarked on a project to paint the trunks of trees at risk of being bark-stripped,” says the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.
“This has resulted in urgent measures being taken to protect the trees and their trunks are being painted with a PVA paint mixture. It is a preventative measure that renders the bark unattractive for harvesting. The mixture does not pose any risk to the tree,” further adds Van der Ross.
The trunks will be painted light brown or grey. Trees that are mostly affected are camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora), fever trees (Vachellia xanthophloea) and norfolk pines (Araucaria columnaris), COCT said in a statement.
The City no longer plants camphor trees since they are on the invasive species list.
Furthermore, due to the impact of bark harvesting in regards to the survival of fever trees, they are no longer planted in certain public spaces. Planting of fever trees is only considered at selected sites where good security measures are in place.
Reports indicate that the bark and roots are primarily being targeted and collected for various medicinal or cultural reasons.
When the bark is stripped from the entire circumference of a tree, also referred to as ring-barking, the tree dies a slow death due to the interruption of its nutritional transport systems.
If only partially stripped, it damages the tree to such an extent that it inhibits the growth and weakens the tree, making it more susceptible to stressors such as drought and disease.
“If we do not halt this blatant vandalism, it could have a negative impact on the city’s canopy tree cover, eventually destroying thousands of trees in Cape Town’s public open spaces. The benefits of trees are numerous and it’s our collective duty to protect them,” concludes Councillor van der Ross.
Community organisations such as neighbourhood watch groups, and security companies that actively patrol areas in Durbanville CBD, can help to combat the illegal harvesting of bark.
Members of the public who notice any illegal bark harvesting, or who want to report sightings of bark stripped trees or bark stripping in process, can submit pictures and provide any logistical information to the City’s Law Enforcement Department by calling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cell phone, or send an email to [email protected]
Picture: City of Cape Town