South Africa’s indigenous forests cover less than one-half of 1 percent of the country — and the wooded land that remains is severely threatened by people who illegally gather medicinal plants to turn a profit. Michael Peter, director of the nation’s Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, said the problem isn’t traditional native herbalists but rather commercial gatherers, who sell their harvest for profit, do not respect time-honored conservation practices, and have “no traditional taboos or methodology.” Although the forests are also threatened by road-building, illegal logging for furniture manufacture, and unsustainable firewood gathering, “the medicinal plant trade is the single largest cause of indigenous forest degradation in South Africa,” said Peter.