Overstrand Municipality has received many complaints this year over the illegal cutting of trees in especially the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Although there is a lot of suitable trees in the Overstrand area, neither the Municipality nor CapeNature issue permits to harvest invasive alien plants for braai wood on municipal land.
Private landowners may implement a permit system or issue a letter of authorisation to woodcutters stating that they are allowed to remove category 1b or 2 trees (such as blue gum) from a specific area. As such it is up to the individual landowner to come to an arrangement with the wood cutter regarding safety concerns and entry, regrowth and managing the woodland. The most important arrangement must be that the landowner ensures that all discarded leaves and branches are removed after the cutting as it becomes fuel for any fire that may start.
Without an exemption, tree species listed as protected may not be cut, damage, or disturbed without a licence, and perpetrators can be reported to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry’s (DFFE) compliance department.
In addition, CapeNature has taken the decision to prohibit firewood brought in by visitors in all their nature reserves. Firewood sourced directly from a specific area /nature reserve may only be used in that specific protected area and this wood may not be removed from that area and transported further. The reason behind the strong measure is because of the very serious biodiversity threat in the form of the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer beetle (PSHB).
Similarly, the public in Hermanus can also enquire about the source of the wood that they buy and support those suppliers who sell responsibly sourced local wood.