101vision supporting Platbos Conservation Trust. Platbos is Africa’s Southernmost Forest, a tiny precarious remnant of ancient indigenous forest, and it’s the setting for an ambitious experiment in bringing people and forests together.

A Jewel in conservation terms, it’s a project which is protecting and expanding the forest. But while doing this it’s also opening up the forest for people to stay, to live in for a few days, and find inspiration from these ancient trees.

Melissa and Francois Krige have lived off grid in the forest since 2005 and they are the caretakers of this place and the programmes at Platbos.

Platbos Forest is a remnant of the earth’s rich natural forests that support life. Less than 0.5% of South Africa is now alive with indigenous forest.

In the Western Cape Region, Only 0.05 % (a 20th of 1%) remains. So Platbos really is an ecological oasis, a sancturary for trees, birds and animalst, that needs help and protection.

Undervalued, natural forest is often under intense pressure to cash it in and turn it to something that makes money. Here the forest is protected from this, but a big threat remains from fire, made worse by our changing climate.

Drier conditions mean massive fires have denuded large areas across the region and locally growth in alien tree species on land around Platbos poses an additional fire threat.

Melissa and her partner have ensured this forest is protected. They have also established a programme called Trees for Tomorrow. Through this they have established the Platbos Tree Nursery, and have planted over 38,000 native trees.

Planting is taking place in areas that where once part of the forest, helping restore the integrity of the forest. This work also pushes back the boundary of encroaching alien trees that increase fire risk and enables firebreaks to be established and maintained.

They have discovered amazing cooperation to between species in this ancient forest. Where species grow together to form islands to maintain moisture.

At the same time, Platobos is open to people. Accommodation and forest trails have been set up so that people can visit, walk in and spend time on short stays right in the forest.

In partnership with Greenpop, people come to Platbos to enjoy the Reforest Fest and the trees from the nursery get planted out during the gathering.

And the essence of this forest is inspiring people around the world through Melissa’s work on Platbos Tree Essences.

For more info visit platbos.co.za

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