If September is a tree’s least favourite month, then March might be their favourite, or in South Africa at least, as the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has added four new species to their annual list of trees that are protected under Section 12 of the National Forests Act 84 of 1998.

This list includes iconic trees such as the Camel Thorn, Baobab and Marula and currently comprises 52 species, many of which are rare or threatened and need to be protected for their cultural significance as well as the value that they bring to the biodiversity of an area such as food, shelter, and materials.

These new species have been added to the list:

  • Berchemia zeyheri, also known as (a.k.a) Red Ivory or Rooihout
  • Diospyros mespiliformis, a.k.a. African Ebony or Jackal-Berry
  • Schinziophyton rautanenii, a.k.a Manketti Tree or Mongongo Nut
  • Umtiza listeriana, a.k.a Umtiza

The National Forest Act 84 of 1998 makes it illegal to cut, damage or in any way disturb these trees without a license granted by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment. If found guilty, perpetrators may be sentenced to a fine, imprisonment for up to three years, or both as set out in Section 15(1) of the Act:

“No person may-

  1. cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree; or
  2. possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree or any forest product derived from a protected tree,

except –

  1. under licence granted by the Minister; or
  2. in terms of an exemption from the provisions of this subsection published by the Minister in the Gazette on the advice of the Council.”

Therefore, landowners must be aware of any protected species that may occur on their property and ensure not to disturb these trees in any way without the necessary permission. To view the complete list of protected tree species, please view the Government Gazette No. 46094 Vol. 681, published on the 25th of March 2022.