High above, out of sight and in the sunlight, spread the branches of forest giants: Outeniqua yellowwoods up to 45 metres tall, white pear, black stinkwood, ironwood and African holly, with their leaves arranged in a light-trapping mosaic. Below them dark groves huddle, and beneath them other species stand, waiting their turn for a giant to fall, providing sunlight and a chance to grow. From them hang orchids, ferns, lichens, mosses, herbs and succulents in profusion, and down in the shadows crouch smaller ferns, wild pomegranate, black witch hazel and grasses. Under them, if you care to look, is a dank, sweet-smelling world of dismemberment and decay: gaudy-coloured bracket fungi, puffballs and mushrooms whose filaments and chemicals devour the forest from below.
Four years ago Gareth was on a chance visit to the Knysna area. He walked into the forest and felt uneasy. Something worrying was going on and he couldn't put his finger on it.
He is, it needs to be said, an unusual environmentalist, using sophisticated science where necessary, but leading with his heart and intuition. Gareth spent his childhood in Nigeria and Malawi and worked in Kenya with George Adamson of Born Free fame.