Not all gums are bad for biodiversity and all gums are great for honey bees

In South Africa there are over 85 different species of introduced gums. Because of their mass flowering at various times of the year, they provide a constant and reliable flow of nectar and a source of pollen, making them essential to the beekeeping industry & agriculture.  There are six gum species listed in SA as invaders and you only need to remove them if they are in a ‘sensitive area’ on your land.


You can keep all species, including red listed species of gums in line with the following criteria

Your land is within the Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo or Desert biomes, then eucalypts are exempt from removal. (NB this includes all 6 invasive species).

South African Biomes_The Bee Effect

If the gums are within cultivated land and are at least 50 metres away from untransformed or natural land (natural land may not be cleared to achieve this) they do not need to be removed.

If the gums are within 50 metres of the main house on a farm, they are exempt from removal.

Gums in urban areas are exempt from removal if their trunk diameter is more than 400mm (at 1000mm height) at the time of publishing of the Regulations (1 October, 2014).

If the gums are on an existing formal plantation, no intervention is required.

All gums  in riparian areas must be removed, even if any of the above are true

Eucalyptus trees within a ‘riparian area’ (i.e. within 32m of the edge of a river, lake, dam, wetland or estuary, or within the 1:100 year floodline, whichever is the greater), must be removed. This is necessary to prevent their establishment downstream, and impacts on water, sedimentation and on biodiversity.

Gums in Protected Areas (declared national parks, provincial reserves, mountain catchment areas and private nature reserves) must be removed. Discretion can be applied for non-invading species that add value to a Protected Area – e.g. shade for parking or historical value.

Eucalypts, particularly listed species, must also be removed if they are within a Listed Ecosystem or an ecosystem identified for conservation in terms of Bioregional or Biodiversity Management Plans.

The 6 listed species have been declared invasive because of their negative impact on water resources, biodiversity, erosion and increased fire risk. 

In certain sensitive landscapes, these gum species can be maintained by a permit, which can be obtained through a formal consultation and application process with the local municipality and the relevant government departments.

River red gum

Eucalyptus camaldulensis (and hybrids with E.tereticornis


Spider gum

Eucalyptus conferruminate

Sugar gum

Eucalyptus cladocalyx

Saligna gum

Eucalyptus grandis (and hybrids)

Forest red gum

Eucalyptus tereticornis


Eucalyptus diversicolor

When you can keep a tree

If the gum species on your property is a listed invasive or hybrid of it, and cannot be kept because it’s in a bad place on your land or you live in the sensitive biome – but it is used as part of a plantation, woodlot, bee-forage area, wind-row or to line avenues – you can still keep these trees. But you must apply for a permit that ranks them as a Category 2 invasive species under the NEMBA Alien Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations.

Category 2

Category 2 listed invasive species require a permit to carry out a restricted activity. The restricted activities most relevant to landowners include ‘having in possession’; ‘growing, breeding, propagating’; and ‘spreading or allowing the spread of.’

Although the permit will allow you to keep the trees in the demarcated area, you will have to clear them outside of those areas. You will also be accountable should your gum spread into a neighbouring property.

Contact information

Permit applications and queries to

Or download a permit application for your Category 2 gum tree species from:

Applicants applying for a permit to carry out a restricted activity involving Category 2 species need to compile an Environmental Risk Assessment (EIA) report that will accompany their permit application.


Alien and Invasive Species Regulations were promulgated under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEMBA), published in the Government Gazette and supplemented by various regulations that are revised and updated regularly.

bees, gum trees and regulations

Download this comprehensive guide for more detail, published in 2023 by WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund), Cape Town, South Africa.

Authors: Eve Puttergill and Dr Tlou Masehela (The Bee Effect), Shelly Fuller (WWF).



Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs belonging to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.  Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as ‘eucalypts’, the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many of the 700 species are known as ‘gum trees’ because they exude copious sap from any break in the bark. There are no indigenous eucalypts in South Africa.