Indigenous forests in South Africa are classified according to forest type. Protection exists for 44 % of the total area of indigenous forest in some form, including state forests. There are forest scientists, managers, conservationists, regulators and administrators involved with the overall programme of caring for the asset of indigenous forests.
At national level the setting of conservation targets, protected area gap analysis and the identification of priority forests for conservation form part of the action, although there is still a lack of capacity and information to ensure adequate measures at the different levels of government.
In theory, all forests in South Africa are protected under the National Forests Act No. 84 of 1998. In practice, only few state forests are actually managed as protected areas.
As forests provide the ecosystem benefits of water retention, purification, flood attenuation and carbon sequestration required for healthy environments for human habitation, the commitment to this work is imperative. Government and citizens share responsibility for the future of the country's forests (Systematic conservation planning for the forest biome of South Africa, DWAF, 2005, Government Gazette).