Geo Parkes focuses its operations primarily on the supply of pine sawlogs and poles to its clients.
All the main activities of our sustainably-managed plantation – from planting of pine cuttings, to thinning and clearfelling – are carried out by our own staff who harvest and prepare the timber to be sold in log form. We employ over 40 permanent workers and more from the local community on a contractual basis.
The company’s Hoogekraal estate lies north of Sedgefield in the Swartvlei area of the Garden Route, and comprises mainly of pine plantations, along with some natural forest areas.
Our cuttings are carefully selected and propagated to order at local nurseries and suppliers. Parent trees have been specially selected for their growth qualities and desirable timber characteristics. The seeds are extracted, treated and sown into individual plastic holders. The seedlings are then caringly tended in the tree nurseries until planted out in the plantation.
Planting is done by hand and care is taken to match the tree species with the soil type and environmental factors. Species include pinus pinaster, pinus elliottii and pinus radiata. The trees are thinned out progressively, at about 5 year intervals, to allow the healthier, straighter and more vigorous trees to develop faster. The lower branches are also pruned to produce knot-free timber. When a final density of approximately 500 trees per hectare is reached, the plantations are allowed to grow undisturbed until ready for clear felling at around 20 years. During the rotation age of up to 25 years the trees are protected against forest fires, weed competition, forest pests and tree diseases.
Geo Parkes operates its own harvesting and transport of pine and karri as well as our indigenous species. Harvesting operations are mostly manual and labour intensive – felling of trees, choking of logs and log making are all done manually to ensure minimal disruption to the environment. Chainsaw operators fell, de-branch and stack trees infield ready for extraction to roadside which is done using a cable skidder and tractor. At roadside the trees are manually made into logs and stacked according to diameter and length, after which our trucks are loaded using Bell loggers and delivered to client.
We maintain our own road system and slip paths within the plantations and forests to ensure the accessibility of logs for orders.
Geo Parkes is intensively involved in fire detection and firefighting to protect our plantations and natural forests. Following the devastating fires of 2017, even more safeguards have been put in place, working closely with neighbouring landowners and forestry companies and the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association. Firebelts are regularly cleared of all combustible material and firefighting equipment is constantly checked and updated.
Geo Parkes is very aware of our role as guardians of the land under our care. The work of our consultant silviculturists and foresters ensures that we manage the extraction of our plantation timbers optimally and that environmental damage is minimised and the land is restored for future plantings.
We are part of a co-operative network of authorities and adjoining land owners to ensure the best possible protective policy for our plantations. We strive to protect and advance our bird and wild animal life and work in conjunction with several wildlife and nature conservation organisations to ensure that the wildlife on our properties is preserved in optimal surroundings.