Platbos Forest is a botanically unique, endangered forest ecosystem. Part of the Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest and richest of the world's six floral kingdoms - the forest grows on an ancient sand dune with neither a river nor spring to sustain it. Indigenous forest covers less than 0.05% of the Western Cape Province, and only 0.5% of South Africa. Located near Gansbaai in the Western Cape, Platbos is Africa's southernmost forest with trees of over one thousand years of age. The Platbos Conservation Trust was created to ensure the survial of this ancient forest. Cape Nature has awarded Platbos stewardship status in recognition of the forest's high conservation value with respect to its uniqueness, biodiversity and connectivity to the landscape. The property is currently being rezoned to a Contact Nature Reserve.
The primary objectives of the Platbos Conservation Trust are:
• to protect the forest from the heat-intense fires, fueled by the dense alien stands that characterize the surrounding landscape.
• to clear the forest edge of aliens and to replant them with endemic trees grown for this purpose at the forest nursery.
• to protect the biodiversity and genetic-integrity of the forest
• to reinstate the forest and its biodiversity beyond its present day boundaries and back into the large tracts of land where it once occurred,
• to create employment and skills-development opportunities for the local disadvantaged community
• to provide educational programs for disadvantaged schools, that focus on the necessity of indigenous forests and their environmental importance from a biodiversity, economic, cultural and tourism perspective.
The Platbos Conservation Trust was initiated by the Krige family, the owners of the forest. Francois and Melissa Krige purchased Platbos in 2005. At the time of sale, the forest was zoned inappropriately as "Agricultural land" and official vegetation maps of the area even had it listed as "degraded agricultural land". The Kriges have since turned this around and as a result, Platbos has featured on television programs such as "50/50", "Pasella" and "Kwela" and in numerous publications and radio shows. Most importantly, the forest is soon to be rezoned as a Nature Reserve. By signing a Full Stewardship Contract with Cape Nature, the Kriges have ensured that for perpetuity, this unique forest will be conserved and rehabilitated for the benefit of future generations.To date, over 5000 forest trees have been planted on the forest edge – sponsored by concerned individuals and corporations. In addition, 12 000 forest trees were planted under the auspices of the Platbos Conservation Trust at neighbouring "Farm 215". Funding has recently been secured to begin a fire break on the most critical boundary.