By Nthambeleni Gabara
Pretoria - A massive gum tree, measuring more than 38 metres from side to side, is to become the latest edition to South Africa's list of Champion Trees.
The tree's massive crown shades part of the Gavin Relly Green on the Witwatersrand University campus grounds and is supported by a trunk of 7.5 meters in circumference.
The awe-inspiring tree will be unveiled as a Champion Tree on Friday by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Once listed, Champion Trees have special protected status in terms of the National Forests Act of 1998. No such trees may be cut, disturbed or damaged without a license. Licenses to have the tree trimmed will be issued only under exceptional circumstances, such as a tree posing a danger to life or property.
The department initiated the Champion Trees project to identify and protect trees worthy of special protection throughout South Africa. They are regarded as of exceptional importance because of their remarkable size, age, aesthetic, cultural, historic or tourism value.
There are more than 60 Champion Trees in South Africa.