67 minutes community service

Berta van Rooyen, Tokai

The Friends of Tokai Park (FoTP) hosted a very successful pulling session on Madiba’s centenary, Wednesday July 18.

The 67 minutes of community service was attended by FoTP members and SANParks staff led by the Tokai section ranger, Elmonique Petersen, who also oversaw the pulling session.

A section of dense growing Acacia longifolia (long leaf wattles) was selected. The density of the patch made it possible for the volunteers to pull the young trees by hand. The trees were mostly higher than one metre, but due to dense growing pulling was easily done. Volunteers were shown how to pull by hand and not to leave a root behind. Longifolias are often
cut above the soil
with a pair of clippers, but the plants
frequently regrow which requires a follow-up clearing.

The Tokai Arboretum dates from 1886 and is currently a Grade 2 heritage site that was proclaimed a national monument in 1985. Upgrade to a Grade 1 or national heritage site is in progress. The arboretum is, apart from its own intrinsic value, also the historic and cultural marker of commercial forestry in the Western Cape. The upkeep is therefore of paramount importance, especially in eradicating problematic invasive species.

The fire of 2015 has stimulated the growth of invasive acasia, gum, pine and other trees. The FoTP is trying to eradicate these infestations apart from looking after the heritage aspects of the Tokai Arboretum.

Volunteers were welcomed by the section ranger. They were also asked to commemorate the convict labourers who were responsible for the manual labour when commercial forestry began in 1883. The Mandela Day activity gave an ideal opportunity to link Nelson Mandela to the neglected labourers of the early years.

The success of the day was described as “an awesome day, enjoyable and rewarding”.

The co-operation between SANParks and the FoTP is an example of public participation and co-operation on a mutual base for nature conservation.

If anyone would like to get involved with the FoTP and/or its work in the arboretum, follow them on Facebook, or contact Berta at 072 474 0608.