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Afforestation and Reforestation

Reforestation istn'a a new concept in the news world. Media outlets have spoken about the reforestation of the Amazon for years but Iceland recently made headlines with the attempts at afforestation, a concept that has been around for many years. Decades of afforestation in Youyu, China increased the forest coverage from 0.3% to 54% as well as in other areas. Iceland used to have many forests but when the Vikings landed in the late 800s, they cut down the trees for timber and to make space for pastures. Iceland lost 97% of its forests which lead to soil erosion and reduced biodiversity. They are now attempting to restore their natural ecosystems.

Afforestation and reforestation are similar in that they both involve planting trees. However, reforestation is planting new trees to expand an existing forest while afforestation is focused in creating a 'new' forest. But there's more to forests than just planting trees. Forestry is the care and maintenance of forests, as unmaintained forests pose a fire risk and result in no new growth as the forests canopy becomes too dense. Forests provide not only clean air but natural habtiats for birds and animals.

South Africa isn’t known for its forests but there are a number of them across the country. Newlands Forest on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is popular for walking and jogging. Though much of the original forest was cut down during early settlement for pine plantations there are still areas of original growth around the large pines that now make up most of the forest. Another popular forest is Knysna Forest along the Garden Route, this forest is the largest forest complex in South Africa. Knysna Forest used to have large numbers of elephants and other large mammals but this is no longer the case, however, there is still a large number of birds and smaller animals that thrive in this dense protected area.

Urban forests also play a role as they filter air and sunlight, they reduce city heat and provide shelter for animals as well as recreation centres for people. Johannesburg is considered to be the largest man-made urban forest. Agroforestry is another land management systems working toward better biodiversity and reduced soil erosion.

In the greater Cape Town area, we have our Cape Nature Conservation project. The project works to conserve the indigenous fauna and flora of the Zandvlei wetland in Muizenberg. The reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including 433 plant, 150 bird, 32 fish, 28 reptile, 23 mammal and 7 amphibian species. Have a look at the link above to find out more.

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