Bark is a popular traditional medicinal product harvested from a range of trees growing in natural forests in this country. Sustainable bark collection is one thing – it is quite another if a tree is over-harvested or becomes ring-barked as it will die. Unless the bark is harvested in small quantities and with care, the injury caused to trees leads to wood deterioration as a result of insect damage and fungal infection.
It was while walking through the patch of natural forest tucked into the side of the mountain along the Dassiekrans Trail the other day that we came across these examples of bark harvesting:
A slice of bark has been carefully removed from one side of this tree trunk.
Although the gashes on this tree trunk look horrendous to me, the botanists accompanying us on the walk assured us that this too is a mark of sustainable bark collection and that it has not harmed the tree in terms of its longevity.
This is an example of of what was identified as unsustainable bark stripping.
One can already see signs of rot and the deterioration of the trunk.