Alanna van der Linde and Tony Rebelo
We agree with the three facts presented by Professor Moll (“Let us get our facts right”, Bulletin letters, March 22), namely that most fynbos is heathland, that fynbos is fire driven, and that urban areas are subject to increased nutrients due to human activities. However, we disagree with his interpretation of the implications of these factoids.
Firstly, he overlooked another fact: Cape Flats Sand Fynbos is the richest and most diverse type of sand fynbos, and has the highest number of threatened plant species of any vegetation type in southern Africa: (108 threatened and near threatened Red List plant species).
A second fact: contrary to expectations and research finding elsewhere, is that Tokai fynbos has self-restored and to date over 340 indigenous plants have emerged from the seed bank, and 22 threatened plant species and two threatened amphibian species are present. Tokai is one of the highest conservation significant sites in the City of Cape Town.
Fact three: Alien vegetation can be cleared, and any nitrogen deposition can be effectively dealt with by regular, managed burns. Nature reserves across the world engage in safe, managed burns, and the need for fuel reduction burns is now appreciated throughout Mediterranean regions worldwide.
However, alien invasive trees and overly zealous fire protection are certainly major concerns for residents adjacent fynbos, savannah and grassland ecosystems.
Our conclusion is that Professor Moll’s doom and gloom scenario for Cape Flats Sand Fynbos is fallacious. While we still have this fantastic biodiversity on our doorstep we will join hands with local and international movements working hard towards the conservation of biodiversity: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), SANParks, City of Cape Town, CapeNature and many more. Fynbos is our heritage and we won’t give up on it to some pine huggers.
We will not address Nicky Schmidt’s letter, other than to point out that Professor Peter Linder is a local boy (from Piketberg), who although an international scientist, is not a foreigner. We did not solicit input from foreigners in our petition, but are confident that if we did, we would get thousands of signatures in support for Cape Flats Sand Fynbos – the world is aware that we are a botanically Megadiverse region, even if some locals (who spend much of their year overseas) cannot see beyond the pines.