Home of The African Tree Essences
Platbos, a relic forest with trees of over 1000 years of age, is vulnerable to runaway fires. Indigenous forests are rare and endangered ecosystems covering less than 0.05% of the Western Cape. The Trees for Tomorrow Reforestation Project was conceived in the wake of the devastating fires of 2006.
Like natural forests the world over, parts of Platbos were cleared-felled in days gone by to make way for cultivation. Today, many of these fields stand fallow and they are now being colonized by invasive alien vegetation. These dense stands of alien vegetation on neighbouring land pose a grave fire risk to the forest.
A Unique Tree Composition
What makes Platbos a unique forest is its tree specie composition. The dominant trees are the Afromontane species of Celtis africana "white stinkwood", Olinia ventosa "hard pear" and Apodytes dimidiata "white pear", combined with the coastal forest tree species of Sideroxylon inerme "milkwood" and Chionanthus foveolata "pock ironwood". As a result, Platbos does not fit comfortably into any of the existing forest categories. It has been compared to the Tongaland-Pondoland forests of Kwazulu Natal, and it has also been described as a "sand forest". In his study of 1961, botanist Dr Taylor referred to it as a "Celtis-Olinia-Apodytes Tall Forest" because of the relative dominance of these forest trees, and certainly it is these trees which give Platbos is special character.
It is perhaps enough to say that, whatever its botanical category, this southermost forest of Africa is unique, and as such, a haven for not only the animals that dwell in it, but also for the weary souls that come to soak up its gentle peace.