Preserving the Knysna Forest at Forest Edge Nature Lovers Retreat. Preservation is what makes the Knysna Forest such a special part of South Africa.
For those who have not visited us at Forest Edge Nature Lover’s Retreat, we border the indigenous Knysna Forest. The only thing separating us and the forest is a wire fence, making our establishment any Nature lover’s heaven. Drupkelders’s entrance is literally right outside our gate, why mention this place specifically? Well, it’s a very special part of our Forest. Numbers are limited by Sanparks to only a handful a day and lead you to the most stunning rock pools and waterfalls, by preserving the Knysna forests places like this are kept sacred and special for generations to come.
Our forest is home to 264 bird species recorded in our area, as well as an abundance of wildlife of which the only surviving Knysna Elephant is the most well-known.
The following tree species make up our Canopy of indigenous forest:
- Outeniqua Yellowwood
- Real Yellowood
- White Pear
- Terblans Beech
The Knysna Forest is the country’s largest forest complex and is about 568 square km. The soil of these forests is acidic and nutrient-poor. People have been living in our forest since earlier than the stone ages, with evidence that has been uncovered over the years.
The difference between then and now, the early inhabitants lived lightly on the earth and only left faint traces of themselves that is why there is so little information about these times, preserving the Knysna forest so we can enjoy them today. In 1652 when the VOC arrived in South Africa they needed timber for fuel, building and later raw material for making tools, wagons and the forest was the source. They only found small amounts in Cape Town on the slopes of Table Mountain and even imported some wood. They moved on to the Overberg but this did not work for them either. They explored more of the Country. The only problem with the Quteniqua region was that most of the wood was on the slopes of the mountains and in the gorges and it was very difficult and slow to transport it to Cape Town.
George Rex bought a farm on the banks of the Knysna River and knew that he was sitting on a goldmine. He began dialect with the Government and lobbied them to establish a harbour in Knysna, so he could move the wood quickly and efficiently to other parts of the country. When this was no longer as cheap as it initially was, in 1928 a railway was established to move the wood. As a result of this, the Knysna Forest was starting to deplete quickly and intervention was desperately needed.
The government started a program by planting exotic trees (like Pine plantations) all over South Africa so they could be harvested instead. By 1934 all rights to strip trees in the Knysna Forests were taken away until 1967 thus preserving the Knysna Forest. The Forest has survived 200 years of exploitation and remains one of the Garden Route’s and Knysna’s most important attractions along with the Estuary and our Passes.
Our forests are really one of the most beautiful parts of our country and you can really find peace during a walk in these woods. There are many health benefits of being in these forests as we explored in our previous blog.
In our current world wide uncertainty we live in there are very view places on earth were you can just go breathe, take a step back and re-calibrate yourself. These forests certainly offer this and so much more, this is why preserving our forests is so important and what makes the Knysna Forest such a special part of South Africa.