Message of the fire dancer

Berta van Rooyen, Tokai

The press reported on the clearing of the floor of the Tokai plantation by Parkscape on Tuesday September 5 and Thursday September 7. This was done without permission from SANParks, but with the assistance of MTO.

In short, Parskscape interfered in a contract between SANParks and MTO and overstepped the conditional recreational use as determined by law: “All wildlife and vegetation are protected and may not be disturbed or removed from State Forest Land.”

The exposed plantation floor will be fatal.

Parkscape’s action (also using MTO and SANParks in the process) is also in direct contravention of the National Heritage Resources Act (NRHA) Section 3 which determines that no intervention may occur to heritage resources.

The area is a buffer zone to a World Heritage Site; fynbos is a cultural and natural heritage marker and there is a ruin a ranger’s cottage, built in 1924 with material recovered from Uitvlugt Plantation (1860’s -1924). A recent path crossing the ruin says it all.

Parkscape’s sudden fire dance is speaking volumes in piles of dry wood, dry lower branches of all trees and dry wood and grass in the common. Parkscape’s sudden concern is thus misleading, proved by a recent call on Twitter for more city forests as climate change is going to eradicate fynbos.

Climate history has proved the survival and resilient nature of fynbos. But exotic trees need water to grow and thus tap the underground water used for human survival.

This tweet is a typical example of spreading false news by creating catch phrases like ‘climate change and fynbos’. Be aware of the fire dancer and its message.

Nicky Schmidt of Pakscape responds: We did not clear in the Tokai Plantation on Tuesday September 5 and Thursday September 6. As reported in the local press, we run clearing operations each Sunday, and local park users have assisted during their walks on weekdays.The pines and all related forest material belong to MTO. Thus we sought permission from MTO and were granted such. We also advised Jannie du Plessis, the SANParks area manager, of the clearing. SANParks rangers have congratulated us on our work.

It has been readily acknowledged that the plantation is not an area of cultural heritage, but a working plantation. There is no impact upon any heritage or cultural markers. Clearing does not affect any fynbos Continued on page 12

as there is none in the areas we are working. Any clearing we have done to date, has been in the top two compartments and is nowhere near any ruin.

The piles of wood on the so-called “common” have nothing to do with Parkscape and are a matter for the provincial government, to which the “common” land belongs.

The recent SAEON research by Jasper Slingsby reveals the impact of climate change on fynbos. It does not paint a happy picture. Fynbos needs fire but it also needs water to germinate new seedlings. A drought-ridden time of climate change will not be kind to our beautiful fynbos biome. The benefit of trees (preferably indigenous) in times of climate change is immense and is borne out by global research. The notion that Parkscape is anti-fynbos, requires immediate countering. Our vision for Tokai is one of balance, inclusivity, integration and people needs.

The writer’s final point borders on the usual misinformation and slander we have come to expect from those who do not support our position or the global environmental science behind it..