ISimangaliso Wetland Park’s indigenous trees labelled
VISITORS to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park can now enjoy a more educational experience after 294 tree species were recently labelled at various points, including on walking trails, throughout the park.
More than 2 000 tree labels have been placed on common, rare and endemic indigenous tree species at various public access points.
Sites include Maphelane, St Lucia, Sodwana Bay, False Bay, Eastern Shores, Western Shores, uMkhuze, Coastal Forest and Kosi Bay.
The project was led by SA tree expert Geoff Nicholls who was assisted by iSimangaliso’s Sifiso Vumase, Nerosha Govender and local isiZulu/Thonga naturalists who are respected izinyanga and izangoma in their communities.
During the intensive exercise, many hours were spent discussing the numerous plants and trees’ characteristics, both scientific and medicinal.
Each label shows the scientific, English, isiZulu and Thonga names of each tree.
‘It is important to capture the many different isiZulu and Thonga names of trees in this area,’ said Nerosha Govender, iSimangaliso’s Manager for Research and Development.
‘Owing to the different dialects spoken in northern KZN, one tree species can have many isiZulu and Thonga names depending on the area in which the tree is found.’
Linked to smart technology, many of the labels contain QR codes, which allow tourists access to more detailed natural and cultural information about the trees on the SANBI (SA National Biodiversity Institute) website.
The project also served to update the park’s tree lists, which have been incorporated into the national species lists for South Africa.
All labels are loosely fixed with a single screw to allow for tree growth, yet can be easily vandalised.
Every six months, Vumase, a former iSimangaliso bursary student who is responsible for managing the project, will loosen the screws to prevent growing trees from warping them, and replace lost or damaged labels.
Trails within the wetland park that now feature labelled trees include St Lucia’s Igwalagwala Trail and Crocodile Centre, and Maphelane’s Sand Dune Trail.
Other areas within the park where labelled trees can be found include uMkhuze’s eMshope gate complex, St Lucia’s estuary boardwalk, Kosi Bay mouth and False Bay’s Ingwe, Mphophemeni and Dugandlovu trails.
Inyanga, Sifiso Vumase and Geoff Nichols during iSimangaliso’s tree labelling project