Joburg is proud of its Champion Trees!

Although Joburg is famous for its huge number of trees and are often referred to as “the biggest urban/man made forest in the world”, there are five trees that stand out from the rest (which is about 10 million trees)! These trees are Joburg’s declared “Champion Trees”. Each of them are special in their own way and JCPZ is protecting them with pride.

WHAT IS A CHAMPION TREE?

 

Champion trees are individual and/or a group of trees declared as protected under section 12 of National Forest Act (NFA) of 1998 by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and declared as a champion tree under act in terms of section 15(1) of NFA (South African Republic). A champion tree is a tree with exceptional features, size, historical value, tourism- or cultural value. A protected tree species does not make it a champion tree. Trees are protected for various reasons; for example, they may be endangered or rare. Champion trees are exceptional trees that represent a unique part of the nation’s forest and tree heritage. These trees are any self-supporting plant of 10mm diameter at breast height, that is 3m high if single stemmed and 5m high if multi – stemmed.

 

NUMBER OF CHAMPION TREES DOCUMENTED IN JOHANNESBURG?

Currently there are five champion trees documented in Johannesburg located in University of the Witwatersrand, Auckland Park, Sophiatown, Northcliff and Parktown North). These champion trees include exotic, alien and Indigenous species. Once the trees have been identified and listed on the National Database, an honouring plaque is placed on the tree.

 

HOW TO IDENTIFY/SPOT A CHAMPION TREE?

Champion Trees:

 

* Are 100 years old or older

* Have historical value

* Have tourism value

* Are self –supporting woody plants

* Size: 10mm stem diameter at breast height - >3m high if single stemmed and >5m high if multi –stemmed

* May be plants such as Aloe, cycads, palms, banana-like plants and so forth which are excluded by the act

* May be indigenous and non-indigenous trees – both are eligible

* Are in protected areas, including botanical gardens and arboreta

 

REGULATIONS ON THE REMOVAL OF CHAMPION TREES

Protected trees may not be cut, disturbed or damaged and their products may not be possessed, sold or transported without a license. In the case of individual trees, the protection is absolute, with no potential for permission for removal except if life or property is threatened (eg by dying or leaning trees) under the National Forests Act 1998 (Act No. 84 OF 1998).

 

Did you know?

The first tree to be declared a champion tree and protected under this provision was the Quercus robur (known as the Sophiatown Oak) which was the only tree that survived demolition of Sophiatown in 1950’s by the apartheid government. Baobab is the tree of the year (rear) Adansonia digitata (Baobab, Kremetart).

 
  1. Eucalyptus Grandis (Flooded gum or Rose Gum Tree)

Oldest tree in Joburg

Located: University of Witwatersrand

Height: 34 metres tall

Canopy/ Crown size: 36.4m x 38.7 m wide

Stem size: 7.45 metres

Planted in the 1830’s alongside route used by travelers between Rustenburg and Joburg. It was declared a champion tree under the National Forests Act of 1998 at a ceremony held at the Gavin Relly Green on 10 September 2010

 
  1. Populus deltoids (Cottonwood Tree)

Located: 5a 10th avenue, Parktown North

Height: 35 metres tall

Trunk size: 2.8 m

 
  1. Populus nigra (Lombardy Poplar)

Located: Corner of Fawley and Lothbury Avenue, Johannesburg

Height: 22 metres tall

Stem size: 3.52 m

Canopy/Crown size: 5.89m

 
  1. Quercus robur (Sophiatown Oak)

Located: No. 8 Bertha Street, Sophiatown

Height: 18 metres tall

Stem size: 4.48m

Canopy/Crown size: 32m

The first individual tree proclaimed as protected under the National Forests Act.

Current status: Was mutilated and died, but site is still of historic significance.

Tree was part of the history of Sophiatown and the struggle against the forced removal of the community in the 1950’s

 
  1. Quercus robur (Northcliff Oak)

Located: Kirchmont Heights, 4 Koelenhof Road, Northcliff Extension 19

 

Height: 22 metres tall

Stem size: 5.96m

Canopy/Crown size: 29.4m

Size index: 164
The largest and perhaps the oldest Oak tree in Gauteng, and an impressive landmark.

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