Forests for Life 1: Mistbelt Habitat Restoration Project

Mistbelt Habitat Restoration Project

Forests for Life is dedicated to restoring forest and woodland ecosystems, effectively managing critical catchment areas, and improving the lives of communities who rely on forest resources across Sub-Saharan Africa. In partnership with Wild Bird Trust’s Cape Parrot Project in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, the Greenpop Foundation has been reforesting patches of degraded Amatole forest since 2019. By planting indigenous trees, this work serves to restore and expand the habitat of the endangered Cape Parrot.

Conservation Problem Statement

The Cape Parrot is threatened mainly by habitat loss and disease, with only around 1,800 individuals left in the wild. They, along with many other species, are dependent on Mistbelt forest habitat. However, this habitat near Hogsback, Eastern Cape, has been degraded by historical indigenous tree felling and lost by the conversion of indigenous forest to exotic pine plantations, with forest margins also affected by alien invasive plants. The Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry is mandated to restore this land, but is severely under-resourced. Villages and small communities surrounding these Mistbelt forests depend on the forests for firewood, housing materials and bushmeat.

Restoration Approach

Greenpop’s proposed solution to the problem of forest degradation is to assist in restoring forest ecosystem function and biodiversity through reforestation. Therefore, this project utilises the Forest Landscape Restoration approach, which is the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. FLR is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape to meet present and future needs and to offer multiple benefits and land uses over time.

Funding and implementation of actions to restore degraded areas will eventually lead to improved forest management and associated co-benefits, such as :

  • Biodiversity conservation through increasing habitat availability for forest-dependent species
  • Increased soil stability and health
  • Improved water regulation
  • Increased Carbon sequestration
  • Economic benefits derived through eco-tourism and sustained forest productivity


1. Stakeholder Engagement:
Meetings with all relevant stakeholders are conducted in the planning phase of the restoration work to ensure that activities are appropriately developed in the context of a multi-use landscape.

2. Monitoring and Reference Site Assessment:
An assessment of a neighbouring intact site is conducted to track restoration impact over time and assist with target-setting.

3. Alien Vegetation Management/Assisted Natural Regeneration:
Alien invasion, namely of Black Wattle, represents a key driver of ecosystem degradation. Restoration activities thus need to address this through appropriate actions aimed at driving long-term stand replacement from Black Wattle to indigenous forest i.e. through assisted natural regeneration utilizing strategic management of the Black Wattle pioneer/nurse stand. Target sites are cleared of alien vegetation and prepared for planting, with the cleared vegetation being chipped and used as mulch to increase water retention and add biomass to the soil.

4. Enrichment Tree Planting:
To further assist natural forest establishment at target sites, appropriately selected indigenous tree seedlings (i.e. those with low natural regeneration and appropriate nurse stand conditions) are planted strategically across the sites. The species chosen take into consideration their palatability to livestock/herbivores to limit this as a threat.

5. Community Engagement:
Meetings with all relevant communities are conducted in the planning phase of the restoration work to ensure that activities are appropriately developed in a manner that is sensitive to their needs and concerns.

Tree Species

  • Afrocarpus falcatus - Outeniqua yellowwood
  • Calodendrum capense - Cape chestnut
  • Cassinopsis ilicifolia - Lemonthorn cassinopsis
  • Celtis africana - White Stinkwood
  • Diospyros spp - Star apple
  • Diospyros whyteana - Bladdernut
  • Ekebergia capensis - Cape Ash
  • Elaeodendron zeyheri - Small-leaved saffron
  • Halleria lucida - Tree fuschia
  • Pittosporum viridiflorum - Small-leaved plane
  • Podocarpus latifolius - Real yellowwood
  • Rhamnus prinoides - Dogwood
  • Scolopia mundii - Red pear
  • Searsia chirindensis - Red currant
  • Vepris lanceolata - White ironwood
  • Ziziphus mucronata - Buffalo thorn

Project Outcomes

  1. Strategic restoration of degraded protected land in Hogsback, Eastern Cape through tree planting and alien vegetation management.
  2. Natural regeneration, which eventually mimics natural forest habitat, is encouraged and helps to connect fragmented forest patches, and assists in the dispersal of plants and animals within and between forest and grassland mosaics.
  3. Local communities are provided with access to functional ecosystem services (increased water availability, reduced fire risk, improved soil quality), employment opportunities, and skills and knowledge related to ecosystem restoration.
  4. Ecological and social contributions of ecosystem restoration interventions are documented, understood and shared through robust monitoring.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is conducted each Spring (September), with baseline assessments conducted before the implementation of project activities. M&E for this project includes the following:

  1. Vegetation Monitoring
  2. Soil Monitoring
  3. Fixed-point Photography
  4. Bird Monitoring

No. of hectares under restoration: 21.6 ha
No. of trees planted: 13,500 trees

For more information on our work, visit:

For more information on the Cape Parrot Project, visit: