Buffer Zones are also known as corridors or fingers. It is the zone between occupied(human) land and the natural forest.
The pine plantations literally blanket the earth in the Knysna Area. To bring the land back into balance, indigenous trees and plants need to be planted, but not just planted, they need to have a vein into the indigenous forest to connect with it. A forest consists of plants, trees, animals, bugs, moss, mycelium etc. The land needs to source these creatures from the central forest.
The Knysna Forest needs to reconnect to the land and interconnect with the small pieces of indigenous forests that are scattered around. To do this we need to begin creating fingers or corridors of fire-resistant indigenous trees, coming out of the forest, continuing in strips of 50-100 meters in width and 1 – 5 km in length. Corridors between the plantations could consist of indigenous trees and plants that are fire resistant. They will take less long-term management than keeping a firebreak maintained and provide more protection as a firebreak. These trees can also be harvested after their growth period and be used as indigenous woodlots.
We are currently doing research into Pine forests and what dangers they create for local communities. The firebreaks seem obviously inadequate.
Until now, eleven meters of open space around every farm owners individual boundary (which needs to be maintained three times a year to be effective) is the current law. This is not effective, but because the law says a firebreak needs to be like that, citizens are compelled to follow it. However, this cannot stop a forest fire and often makes things worse. However, an indigenous Cape beechwood can(stop a fire). Why have empty space when you can grow a corridor of the indigenous trees as a firebreak and even be able to harvest wood from it once it has been established?
These Buffer Zones will increase species diversity by allowing small animals like birds, monkeys, deer, etc to thrive and move freely from one section of the forest to another. The insects and animals pollinate and spread seeds, constantly increasing the natural growth of the forest.
With the public sector and pine corporations direct involvement, it could be a huge step to reducing South Africa’s carbon footprint. If the firebreaks become corridors of indigenous forest, everyone wins, the pine companies, the environment and the people who take care of the land.
We want to commence the start of this initiative, “Fingers of the forest” as soon as possible. A nursery will be the first step, combined with a clearing and replanting program. The nursery will be for many thousands of trees. We are already in negotiations with Sanparks officials and municipality (with SCFPA approval) to be allowed the right to revitalise the boundary of the indigenous forest.
Step two; will be to source the funding to assist local dwellers to extend the forest into their properties following the natural water courses mimicking nature and planting indigenous trees that grow naturally on the boundary of this forest.
‘The hand’ from which the fingers extend will be with the particular community (In this case, Pachamama Forest Retreat) along the forest edge who will nurture baby trees plants and other forest resources to feed these Buffer zones providing the forest with fingers reaching over the land connecting the land with the heart of the indigenous forest and creating the much needed new technology, of forest finger firebreaks and woodlots. These heart communities will also plan new strategies to deal with invasive trees after a fire and assist local forest communities to implement strategies to prevent overgrowth of invasive species after a fire by properly nurturing the newly burnt land until local species have taken hold.
The global awareness of ‘the necessity to plant trees’ has reached the highest numbers ever. It’s time to plant trees and find fun ways to do it.