Explorers Connect

Explore:The ancient trees of Africa 2013

EC CommunityJames Hipkiss

South Africa has some of the most diverse range of habitats on the planet, and has incredibly rich levels of both biodiversity and endemism. The team plan to travel overland from Cape Town in the South, all the way up to the Limpopo province in the North East of the country, a journey of roughly 4000km. South Africa is the fastest developing country in Africa, increasingly bringing humans into conflict with nature.

Forestry and mining activities, as well as many other issues, are contributing to the devestation of once pristine habitats at an alarming rate. Unfortunately these activities are also South Africa's largest source of income and as such unlikely to stop anytime soon. Working together with official government departments in South Africa, we aim to climb and record some of the countries key champion trees as well as begin the hunt for new noteworthy specimens. Some of these trees are beyond 80m tall and others such as the Baobabs are believed to be upto 4000 years old!

By filling in gaps in official tree data, and by potentially finding and adding new specimens to South Africa's champion tree register, we can help get these trees protect by law and aid in the conservation of invaluable habitats at risk of being lost. If we can beat the surveyors, foresters, mining companies and the hotel chains to these areas and get these trees officially recorded, then we may help to prevent further irreparable damage. Although South Africa is the most developed country in Africa, there are still many areas that remain relatively wild and untouched.

The terrain we will negotiate may be home to little known areas of forest that have avoided unwanted attention, and it is in these places that we hope to find the trees we are searching for. One of the primary aims of this project is to help highlight the need to conserve our planets woodlands, forests and individual trees.

Trees support life for a vast variety of other plants and animals, and are essential for life on Earth. Its about time we started to realise their true value to all terrestrial life, especially our own.