‘Bark stripping can cause forest depletion’

Bark has been stripped from trees near the Newlands Forest Contour Path.

Bark stripping poses a serious threat to Newlands Forest, says SA National Parks (SANparks).

The practice, says spokeswoman Lauren Clayton, results in forest depletion and threatens species.

Newlands Forest has been open to the public since lockdown moved to level 3. It draws many hikers and trail runners, especially over weekends.

Youssef Kanouni, who ran in the forest on Saturday, said he had noticed many trees on the contour path had been stripped of their bark.

“I have seen mountain bikes that have also used the Newlands contour path, and we have seen many fallen trees on the path,” he said.

Another runner, Dr Shabeer Ebrahim, said he had also noticed trees stripped of bark on the same trail.

Tony Serafin, chairman of the Peninsula Ramblers hiking club, noticed bark stripping on the trail when he last hiked it in May.

“I normally take pictures when I go on the route, I always noticed that the tree barks were removed though obviously we never know who does it.”

Ms Clayton said coats of tree sealant could be applied to the stripped tree trunks to provide some protection. Assegai and Cape beech trees had been hardest hit by the bark stripping, she said.

“SANParks rangers, together with law enforcement, have a strategic operation in place to catch the perpetrators,” she said.

Bark stripping or other suspicious activity in the forest can be reported to SANparks at 021 422 1601/2. Cases of bark stripping elsewhere in the city can be reported to the

City of Cape Town’s arborist at Arborist@capetown.gov.za