Newly planted seedlings and saplings are prone to damage by many pathogens and pests. Among the vertebrates, birds, small and medium-sized rodents such as porcupines and hares may ring-bark young pine trees, while antelope, like kudu, eland, bushbuck and duiker may browse tree seedlings or scrape bark off trees with their horns.
According to Philip Boardman of Alternative Structures, Signumat bud and shoot protectors are tools for ensuring the healthy development of precious assets.
“Unlike other forms of agriculture, commercial forestry in South Africa is the most wildlife-friendly industry. The Signumat range of tree protectors are a sustainable way of protecting the industry’s resources while providing a refuge for wildlife,” explains Boardman.
His company, Alternative Structures, supplies services and solutions for a wide range of technical forestry and sawmilling problems. It represents several international and local manufacturers, including the Latschbacher and its global brands, WinforstPro and Signumat.
Boardman says the tree bud and shoot protector mechanism was invented in 1990 by TS-Holz and is used extensively by growers in Germany and Austria. In July 2020, Latschbacher added the silviculture tools to its stable and markets it under its Signumat brand.
The products are constructed from light, high-quality UV-resistant re-usable plastic and are available in two sizes, four colours and three models. The colours are significant because browsing animals like deer are not attracted to dark blue.
The short protectors are available in yellow, orange, dark blue and white. They are 10x11cm, and there is a choice of the re-usable Longlife-tree protector and the white Bio-tree device. The latter is biodegradable when it meets the soil where micro-organisms consume it.
Both models feature thin brushes on the inside to keep it in place and short horizontal and vertical spikes to protect terminal shoots. The user-friendly double-save snap fastening system prevents it from opening accidentally if animals or weeds touch it.
Signumat recommends the long protector for deciduous, pine and Christmas trees and other markets requiring a strong single stem. The device is available in dark blue and protects saplings by:
- Repelling birds and animals after the sensitive terminal shoots
- Preventing forked growth
- Deterring buck from rubbing against the stems.
Boardman says the protectors are ergonomically designed to be attached easily and quickly.
“Hold it between your thumb and index finger, making sure that the thin brushes point inwards. Position it below the bud of the terminal shoot and latch the two ends with the snap-fastener,” he explains. “Make sure that the protector is not too tight because it will inhibit the growth.”