Plan to uproot 100 000 trees in Limpopo ‘sacrilege’, says baobab expert

Sheree Bega 20 Mar 2021

Plans to uproot more than 109 000 trees at the construction site for the government’s proposed Musina-Makhado special economic zone, including thousands of protected mopane, marula and baobab trees, don’t sit well with Isaac Sekwama.

“These trees are woven into our culture and are sacred to us,” says Sekwama, who lives in the Tshikuwi village in Limpopo, around 25km from the proposed 8000-hectare southern site of the controversial metallurgical cluster. 

“There are a lot of indigenous trees, which have cultural significance to us as the Venda people, because the roots, the bark, are used for many different things.”

Last month, the final environmental impact assessment (EIA) report by the project’s environmental consultants, Delta Built Environmental Consultants, described how the total number of trees recorded in the proposed construction area is 109 034, of which 51.3% are marula trees, 41.9% shepherd trees, 5.2% baobab and 1.65% leadwood trees.

Its specialists recommend that juvenile and subadult trees need to be relocated and transplanted. 

“This should be done when the plants are actively growing, and the outside temperature is less than 30°C, which would increase the likelihood of successful translocation and with the input of a horticulturist, or a plant translocation specialist.”

A horticulturist and a plant translocation specialist need to be consulted on the feasibility of the relocation of the adult trees, says the final EIA, which notes how De Beers’ Venetia Mine did successful relocation of baobab trees in 2016 and SANParks in 2005.

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