Feeding lot for the Cape Parrots
Dear Hogsback community.
On behalf of the Cape Parrot Project, I would like to share a little about our planting initiative at the Bluff. This is in light of the poor condition of many of the trees, that I’m sure many of you are wondering about.
The Bluff site was selected as Cape Parrots frequently visit the Bluff during certain times of the year, and this municipal land was made available through Ian Weir, who has approached the municipality regarding maintaining the area.
The goal has been three fold:
Create a feeding lot to provide the Cape Parrots with a diverse and nutritious food source throughout the year.
Promote the Cape Parrot Project through creating a visible presence in Hogsback and a space for both locals and visitors to invest in and get involved.
Partner with Essential Amathole and The Edge to form a forested parkland, similar to the Arboretum, where tourists can enjoy this improved public space.
We planted 573 trees of some 27 different species during February and April 2017. The dominant species are Outeniqua Yellowwood (181), White Stinkwood (77), Forest Peach (47), Wild Olive (44), Real Yellowwood (33) and Red Current (27). Trees included both those that provide food for the Cape Parrots as well as pioneer species. Our planting strategy was extensive: we dug large holes, filled them with +- 50% of compost, mulched the trees after planting, created a form of protection for most trees (wattle branches or shade cloth) and watered them after planting, and intermittently thereafter.
However, two key factors limited the initial success of this planting and we have learnt considerably from this effort.
Firstly, the harsh winter and severe black frost that followed the Knysna fires caused significant damage to many of the trees.
Secondly, the Bluff is a very exposed site with bitterly cold winters and strong winds affecting the area. Significantly, many of the trees planted in the north side, closest to the hedge where they received protection from hakea, pine and wattle did considerably better. This has proven to us the valuable role that invasive, exotic tree species can play in creating a less harsh nursery environment on such sites.
I have recently completed the winter monitoring survey of the site. In summary, 40% of trees are dead or dying and 60% are either in recovery mode or healthy. The highest percentage (36%) are in the early stages of recovery but are still very vulnerable. Interestingly, White Stinkwood did exceptionally well where 84% of the trees were healthy. Outeniqua Yellowwoods were the second most resilient species with 25% being past the vulnerable stage.
As I mentioned we have learnt a lot from this initiative and have devised a new strategy going forward.
Over the next couple of years White Stinkwoods will be prioritised for planting. At the same time, Wattle and Silver Birch will be allowed to become established to provide wind, sun and frost protection for our indigenous planted trees, as there are a number of young, naturally seeded seedlings growing in the area.
Once there is enough protection provided by the White Stinkwoods, Wattle and Silver Birch, the next batch of trees will be planted. Generally, seedlings with high wood density have a better survival rate than those with less woody stems. Therefore, trees with a high wood density, such as Outeniqua Yellowwood, Wild Olive, Tree Fuchsia, Camphor Bush, Forest Peach and Keurboom, will be planted. Once these are established, more sensitive trees, such as Iron Wood and Assegai, will be planted.
We will closely surround each tree with shade cloth to better protect against frost damage and hot weather.
Once the indigenous trees are established, the wattle will be cleared.
I thank you for all your support thus far and look forward to seeing a beautiful, productive indigenous park in the years to come.
(Restoration Project Manager)