Trees feel bark strippers’ bite

A tree in Cavendish Street in Claremont, that has been stripped of its bark.

The City of Cape Town is asking the public to report illegal tree bark stripping.

Hot spots for bark stripping include the corner of Bowwood Road and Main Road, Claremont, and Cavendish Street.

Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, says the City can’t condone the damage done to trees through the illegal harvesting of bark for medicinal or cultural purpose.

“We have a responsibility to protect our fauna and flora, and to this end, the City’s recreation and parks department will work tirelessly to avoid the destruction of trees,” he said.

About 10 trees on the corner of Bowwood and Main roads, have had their bark removed. The Tatler also saw another two trees with stripped bark, in Cavendish Street.

Tow truck driver Coenie Steyn parks on the corner of Bowwood and Main when he is working. He said he had seen bark on the ground on that corner about a month ago.

Three years ago, a Tatler reader took pictures of bark-stripped trees on the corner of Bowwood and Main (“Ring-barking scourge returns to Claremont,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 28, 2016).

Mr Badroodien urged the public to spread the word about bark stripping and report it.

Arborist Riaan van Zyl, from TreeKeepers, says the problem can be resolved through education and awareness campaigns.

“The long-term impact of stripping bark from trees in an unsustainable way is that the trees become unhealthy and eventually die,” he said.

Mr Badroodien said the recreation and parks department had been advised to coat the trees in PVA paint to render the bark unattractive for harvesting.

However, Mr Van Zyl said that might not be the best solution.

“Since resourceful humans, such as bark strippers, are motivated by a need for both product and money, they will go elsewhere in the City if their access to high quality material from selected special trees is contaminated by paint,” he said.

Bark stripping is not only happening to trees in urban areas; it also affects trees in conservation areas.

Spokesperson for SANparks, Babalwa Dlangamandla, says that SANParks and Table Mountain National Park have encountered incidents of bark stripping within the boundaries of the protected area.

“Bark stripping is not a resource we would consider making available at present. Our indigenous forests are already impacted by human activity, such as recreation and unauthorised after-hours activities,” she said.

Ms Dlangamandla said SANparks patrolled regularly to identify affected trees, so they could be rehabilitated before irreparable damage was done.

The public can report bark-stripped trees or bark stripping in process, to City law enforcement department at 021 480 7700 or email RP.Enquiries@capetown.gov.za