Do you know that the Clanwilliam cedar tree is likely one of the solely two indigenous conifers in southern Africa? It is usually one of many 43 endangered cone-bearing subspecies globally. Eager to be taught extra? Stick round.
What makes the Clanwilliam cedar tree so particular?
Only a few endemic bushes happen within the Cederberg mountains.
The Clanwilliam cedar tree is considered one of 4 subspecies of Widdringtonia, which belongs to the Cupressaceae household of bushes, generally known as conifers. This tree is confined to 250km2 of the Cederberg mountains, and might’t be discovered anyplace else on the earth.
The cedar tree origins
The title Widdringtonia was coined by Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher as an homage to Samuel Edward Prepare dinner. Prepare dinner, an creator and traveller who later modified his surname to Widdrington, extensively researched conifers through the 18th and 19th century, after which he wrote a ebook about European pine bushes.
Though a lot uncertainty is current across the botanical title for the Clanwilliam cedar, it’s generally known as Widdringtonia cedarbergensis, named after the late creator and the area it happens in.
Cedar tree makes use of
Cedar bushes are exceptionally sturdy and have a particularly lengthy lifespan, with some tree ring development exhibiting that some bushes are over 1 000 years previous. Cedar wooden ranges from stark white to a pale yellow color.
So it’s no shock it was extraordinarily widespread through the 1800s as soon as its potential was recognised. Cedar would was used for nearly the whole lot, however particularly for phone poles, furnishings and shipbuilding.
Even the tree sap discovered within the tree had its advantages, largely used for medicinal functions, to make plasters, and as a varnish.
Solely lifeless, tall, straight bushes had been used as a result of reside bushes contained an excessive amount of resin, making sawing not possible. These had been mostly discovered on the rocky crevices of the Cederberg mountains and had fewer offshoots than those rising in open veld.
After bushes had been felled, they had been dragged down by donkeys, the place it was additional labored on or shipped out to surrounding districts.
Nevertheless, what was as soon as an abundance rapidly thinned out and the cedar tree is now listed Critically Endangered on the IUCN Pink Record of Threatened Species, with solely 20% of the unique inhabitants remaining.
Finish of an period
The overuse of cedar bushes was put to an finish in 1973 when the Cederberg Wilderness space was declared a CapeNature reserve. This declaration got here with two key targets, particularly the prevention of the dying of absolutely mature bushes and to extend the variety of juvenile bushes.
Threats to the cedar tree
A number of components have led to the premature decline of the cedar tree. Some 3800 and 1800 years in the past, pure causes led to a extreme decline in cedar bushes. Because the 1800s, the demand for cedar bushes outweighed the provision, and overuse rapidly led to an enormous decline in numbers.
Elevated temperature attributable to local weather change is one other issue within the decline of bushes, since these temperatures and subsequent dry circumstances will not be appropriate circumstances for a cedar tree to develop. Many of the Clanwilliam cedar bushes on the decrease components of the mountains have died out, however these greater up expertise colder temperatures and thus have a greater probability in survival.
Specialists anticipate a 51-65% loss in areas of fynbos within the coming years. The variety of cedar bushes recorded some 200 years in the past will seemingly not be seen for many years, and may local weather change persist, the tree will go extinct in nature.
What you are able to do to assist
- Stop wildfires by solely making fires at camp websites and put out all fires correctly earlier than you allow.
- Don’t toss cigarette butts out the automotive window.
- Take away all invasive plant species in your backyard and substitute them with indigenous and endemic crops.
- Report any unlawful commerce of the cedar tree to CapeNature.
- Observe climbing trails, not short-cuts or unused areas.
- Don’t use dangerous chemical substances close to water sources.
- Take your trash with you after visiting a wilderness space.
- Be a part of the Cederberg Wilderness Conservation initiative as a hands-on strategy.
Image: Tony Rebelo