Green fingers benefit park and community

Conservationists can take their hats off to the propagation of large numbers of indigenous trees in the Mapungubwe National Park.

Popeye, the Sailor Man, would have been very proud of the spinach crops cultivated in the nursery at Mapungubwe National Park. In addition, conservationists can take their hats off and applaud the propagation of large numbers of indigenous trees.

The nursery, on the western side of the park, forms part of biodiversity social projects (BSP) and creates job opportunities for community members adjacent to the park. However, the project is not only beneficial to those who seek work. The positive effects of the project should be visible in the park over the long term. It fulfils a crucial role in the protection of the ecosystem and providing a green future in Mapungubwe. The focus is shifting to the cultivation of specific tree types.

“There are major concerns over the inadequate natural increase of selective tree species in the natural vegetation, many of which were previously destroyed by severe floods, and of course, hungry elephants,” says Martin Engelbrecht, the park’s conservation manager. Lots of these trees are now protected and elephant exclusion zones have been established to prevent further damage to the forest canopy.

To date the number of trees cultivated is getting closer to 400 and will be used to add to the key species in these exclusion zones due to their inadequate growth. The spinach has taken off and now sustains the demand of park staff with ease.

They purchase bunches of this green vegetable from the park at R7. The produce and trees are not available to the public yet, but this may change in the future. Funding for the project comes from the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs.




René de Klerk

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