It’s about so much more than oxygen and carbon sequestration in trees; the role of reforestation to help reverse climate change cannot be overstated. Owner of Klein River Cheese Farm and proud grower of forests Maggie Baleta is doing her bit to restore the delicate balance between nature and mankind, for the sake future generations.
“We are losing our forests at a rapid pace and the consequences are dire,” says Maggie Baleta, who manages not one but two reforest sites along the river on Klein River cheese farm in Stanford in the picturesque Overberg region.
“Over the past 150 years deforestation globally has contributed to an estimated 30% of the atmospheric build-up of CO2. Deforestation is also a significant driving force behind the loss of genes, species, and critical eco-systems,” according to the World Resources Institute.
We have a responsibility and the time to act is now, says Maggie. Even though the first tree in her forest was planted over 20 years ago, there seems to be a sense of urgency now, given the climate catastrophe staring us down if we don’t act fast.
The original reforestation site was developed some 15 year ago by the founder of the SA Forest Trust, Maarten Gross, on his farm in the Overberg, called Farm 215. To date, 19 145 trees have been planted on six reforestation sites in the Western Cape, which is a massive achievement. All the sites are owned by passionate conservationists who are dedicated to the improvement of the environment in which we live.
The benefits of reforestation sites such as this one are endless: Forests have the capacity to improve the quality of water, to produce clean air and rich soil and store carbon, prevent erosion and desertification, and reduce floods. They regulate the temperature of the earth and help maintain biodiversity. Forests create a sanctuary for other plant and animal species, including mankind.
“We plant to mimic the natural formation of forest eco-systems. Planting a tree in any spot is always a good idea, but planting a tree as a component of a natural forest has the added benefit of creating a safe habitat for natural wildlife, supporting entire eco-systems and storing extra carbon.” As the South African Reforestation Trust vision seeks to enhance biodiversity, naturally only locally occurring indigenous tree species are planted.
What’s more, reforestation requires careful management and maintenance. “Any tree planted needs to have a hole dug, soil enriched, watered in its early life, cleared, pruned and nurtured. This is a form of job creation that adds to the economic viability of an area with a reforestation programme and becomes an educational tool to the team hired, especially during busy planting season,” adds Maggie.
So whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, give a gift that will keep growing, or whether as a corporate you’re looking to offset your carbon emisions, get in touch with Maggie and the South African Reforestation Trust to find out more.