Let us get our facts right

Eugene Moll, Kirstenhof

Two letters (“SANParks is engaging with public about issues,” Bulletin March 15) need a response.

Both concern the ongoing and puerile spat between the Friends of Tokai Park and Parkscape.

All I can say to readers is that until people get their scientific facts correct these kinds of letters will continue – and nothing will be achieved for the future.

Fact one is that all “fynbos” dominated by restios (Cape reeds), shrubs with ericoid leaves, and “proteas” are heathlands – a globally, mappable, vegetation type.

Heathlands are the only major global vegetation type where the lack of plant-available nutrients is the main ecological driver. For all other mappable vegetation it is climate.

Fact two is that Cape heathlands are fire driven – hot fires with a return time of seven to 20 years.

Lower Tokai and much, if not all, of the heathlands that are adjacent to the urban fringe cannot be subjected to ecological burns for a variety of reasons. Safety being paramount.

Fact three – heathlands, adjacent to urban areas, are all subjected to increased nutrient inputs; aerially or though human activities. As such they are easily invaded by plants that do better than the existing heathland species and sadly over time the “new” species will out compete the heath species.

It does not matter how many signatures one gets or how many court cases there are, the simple fact is that over time these special and hugely threatened heathland types are doomed.

The answer is to accept that changes are inevitable and work with the new global forces to come up with some innovative ecological solutions for people.