Restoration of the Ferncliffe Mist-belt Forest in Pietermaritzburg, KZN,South Africa
South Africa does not have an abundance of natural forests with only 0,5 million hectares or less than 0.41% of land area classified as indigenous forest. Of this area Mist-belt Forest only makes up approximately 160 000 ha’s or 32% of the nation’s indigenous forests.
In 2007 the Msunduzi Municipality approached us and allocated a portion of the forest to A Rocha for restoration. A Rocha started working to re-establish a felled timber plantation of approximately 2,5 ha’s. The Ferncliffe Forest is situated on an escarpment overlooking the city of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. It is approximately 250 ha’s in extent and is made up of highly degraded mist-belt forest, a small area of degraded grasslands and patchworks of exotic timber plantation. The forests, situated close to the city, became the primary source of timber for the construction of the Victorian era buildings built since the mid 1850’s. Much of the area was later established to exotic Pine and Eucalyptus forestry and left to degrade to alien invasive vegetation upon harvesting of the timber.
The reserve has been largely neglected for the last 20 years allowing for continued degradation. Situated only 6.5 km from the centre of Pietermaritzburg, the area is enjoyed by hikers and mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Volunteer work parties are hosted during the year.