National parrot project saves forests

The iziKhwenene Project is a small project in the Eastern Cape with huge intentions to plant South Africa’s national tree to save the national parrot.

Cape Parrots – known as iziKhwenene in isiXhosa – are one of the most endangered bird species in South Africa, and the most endangered parrot species in Africa.

The project uses the parrots as an icon to help conserve the degraded mountain mist-belt forest in the Amathole Mountains where the birds nest and feed.

The project is planting thousands of the national tree, the yellowwood, every year in forest patches. Yellowwoods are slow growing and the cutting and burning of indigenous forests are having a devastating impact on the remaining Cape Parrot populations.

The project has set up a micro-nursery model that sees about 40 local community members employed to plant trees, collect seeds, construct nest boxes for parrots and help with appropriate bush clearing.

So far, the project has established 10 such micro-nurseries in eight partnered villages, at homes and at schools.

Each nursery houses 100 to 400 seedlings and if the grower is successful he or she expands the small enterprise.

The aim is to involve 25 local villages in growing yellowwoods. Project volunteers use SMSes to communicate with the network of local growers and to convene monthly meetings in all the villages.

Founder of the iziKhwenene Project Steve Boyes says: “We see the iziKhwenene Project as a multi generational project that needs to capture the imagination of local communities into the future. So, in a way, we are ‘greening the future’.”

This is a win-win situation – the local communities gain heritage rights to the mountains and forests while the Cape Parrot gets a second chance at survival.

Local schools and universities are benefiting from planting trees on their campuses as part of a “Green Campus Initiative”.

The Wild Bird Trust was set up to guarantee that all funds donated or granted to the project go to community-based conservation action.

“We are mindful of succession, capacity-building and partnerships with local government and other stakeholders,” says Boyes.

“We are in the local villages every week, educating local communities about the importance of conserving their natural heritage.

“The restoration of our grand national forests has begun.”

The project has planted more than 25 800 indigenous trees, erected 258 wooden nesting boxes for the Cape Parrots and has established a sanctuary for rehabilitating sick and injured Cape Parrots.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Dogged determination catches smugglers

Rhino Conservation Award - Winner: Endangered Wildlife Trust Rhino Project

Filth to football

Community Conservation Award - Runner-up: Go Green and Clean

Industry grows from alien trees

Green Economy Modelling Award - Runner-up: Eco-Furniture Programme - SANParks BSP Unit

Foster(ing) coastal habitats

Biodiversity Stewardship Award - Runner-up: Friends of the St Francis Nature Areas

Lift-sharing portal changes transport habits

Green Technology Innovations Award - Runner-up: FindaLift

Training locals to be tomorrow’s managers

Youth Leadership & Job Creation Award - Winner: isiMangaliso Wetland Park Authority

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘My north star is the patient’

Rhulani Nhlaniki is Pfizer’s cluster lead for sub-Saharan Africa. As Pfizer starts phase III of the clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, he tells Malaikah Bophela that if it is successful, the company will ensure the vaccine will be available to everyone who needs it

In terms of future-telling failures, this is a Major One

Bushiri knows how to pull a crowd. Ace knows a ponzi scheme. Paddy Harper predicts that a new prophet may profit at Luthuli House

Ghost fishing gear an ‘immortal menace’ in oceans

Lost and illegal tackle is threatening marine life and the lives of people making a living from the sea

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday