Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat has long been committed to saving the endangered Clanwilliam cedar tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) from extinction.
On the 21st of May (2011), this ecological haven in the Cederberg once again joined forces with CapeNature to co-host the annual Clanwilliam Cedar Tree event in Heuningvlei in the Cederberg Wilderness.
Marking the 11th year in the project’s existence, Minister for Economic Development, Tourism & Finance for the Western Cape, Mr Allan Winde (pictured, right) attended the event as keynote speaker. He validated the significant work that has been achieved through this successful private/public partnership, and its contribution to preserving the biodiversity of the Cederberg area, in turn, driving tourism revenue to the region.
Dedicated to the preservation and protection of indigenous wildlife on both the reserve and in the surrounding Cederberg Wilderness, Bushmans Kloof earned the coveted Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Award: Global Winner of Wildlife Conservations Programs (2009); as well as the Relais & Châteaux Environment Trophy (2007).
One of the most anticipated botanical events
The Cedar Tree event, which is one of the most anticipated botanical events on the local community calendar, is attended each year by the community members of Heuningvlei, as well as children from the local Elizabethfontein Primary School and other schools from the area. This year the programme was co-hosted by CapeNature Board Member Ed February and Michael Tollman, representing the Tollman family, owners of Bushmans Kloof which forms part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.
Among some 200 guests attending this year were members of the Wildflower Society, the Botanical Society and the Cederberg Conservancy, who are regular participants. Overseen by Patrick Lane, Conservation Manager at the Cederberg Wilderness Area, guests participated in planting 50 cedar tree seeds which were then transported to Bushmans Kloof, where they will be nurtured in the nursery until they have reached a growth stage where they can be transplanted safely back into the wilderness.
As always the eagerly anticipated replanting of mature seedlings into the grove and wilderness area above Heuningvlei was the highlight of the day. This year visitors were guided to suitable sites on higher altitudes as part of an ”intelligent planting’ initiative aimed at increasing the longevity of the newly planted Cedar trees.
The endemic Clanwilliam cedar tree occurs only in the Cederberg mountains, some 250km north of Cape Town, and it represents one of 1 000 surviving conifer species in the world. The species is categorised as endangered on the IUCN Red List as it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. To date the project has initiated the planting of more than 500 young cedar trees in the Cederberg area.