Save nature’s life-givers in South Africa – Pepper Bark Tree

Save nature’s life-givers in South Africa – Pepper Bark Tree

Strategic conservation of the globally Endangered Pepper Bark tree, Warburgia salutaris

Partner: EWT – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Years: 2020-2022

Warburgia salutaris threatened by invasive alien Black Wattle trees (Acacia mearnsii) from Australia

The Pepper Bark Tree listed as Endangered, both globally and nationally, due to illegal and unsustainable harvesting for their bark, is commonly used in traditional medicine, including many remedies that are used to treat influenza, diarrhea, burns, and other ailments. EWT will work hand in hand with the community, including with Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) to implement targeted habitat protection and restoration work to conserve wild Pepper Barks.

The project takes place in a provincial critical biodiversity area, a priority in the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy and a core area of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO). This project will protect the globally Endangered Pepper Bark Tree Warburgia salutaris.

The first phase will involve dedicated research to understand the conservation needs of the species and the geographic priorities for conservation action.

The second phase will strategically implement conservation action including the formal proclamation of a conservation corridor in a known priority area for the species (western Soutpansberg) and the clearing of alien invasive plants known to compete for key riparian habitat.

The third phase will work with local communities to identify threats, guide sustainable harvesting practices and encourage and enable self-cultivation to reduce and avoid wild harvesting.

Finally, a comprehensive re-assessment of the global IUCN red listing for the species will be conducted as the current assessment is almost 20 years old.