The stakeholder and public engagement review process for the management of Tokai and Cecilia for the next 20 years kicked off at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and online, on Tuesday May 25.
More than 60 institutions and 200 members of the public attended, whether virtually or in person.
Questions were facilitated by SANParks staff: Professor Wendy Foden, of the Cape Research Centre in Tokai, and Dr Howard Hendricks, general manager of policy and governance conservation services, based at SANParks head office.
Dr Hendricks said the meeting was being held before the arrival of the Covid-19 third wave “on the eve of the end of the 2005 to 2025 Tokai and Cecilia Framework”.
The aim was to seek input from all stakeholders and the public to find viable options and scenarios for the future of Tokai and Cecilia as vital management sections within the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).
The review would happen over the next six months, with three months for input and three months to write and draft the next framework, he said.
The meeting kicked off with concerns raised by a representative of the Gorachouqua Tribe that the Bishop’s Court venue was not accessible to all.
TMNP manager Frans van Rooyen gave a brief “stocktake” of the main tasks undertaken over the past 20 years of the framework, including what he said was the lack of transitional planting where pines were due to be felled and replanted with new pine trees. The pines were felled in 2016 but not replaced.
That had not happened because a change in the law that now prohibited the planting of alien vegetation, he said. Asked for clarity on this by Tom Robbins, chairman of the Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society, Michael Slayen, SANParks planning manager, said “the original framework, which was completed in 2009, had allowed for pines to be planted.”
“The National Environmental Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), which falls under the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry, came into being in 2014 and does not allow for pine trees to be planted. And this is what we are trying to review in this review,” said Mr Slayen.
A member of the virtual audience asked about the scheduled felling of pines in the lower Tokai plantation, in Dennedal Road. Mr Slayen said the pines would be felled in 2024, as per the original schedule as decided by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry with the Mountains To Ocean forestry company.
Conservation ecologist and volunteer with the Friends of Tokai Park, Dr Alanna Rebello asked about the role the scientists played in the framework and who spoke for the plants and animals. She said the low-lying Cape Flats sand fynbos was a critically endangered vegetation type, with only 1% conserved. Of the hundreds of Cape Flats sand fynbos species, 147 were threatened with extinction, she said.
Constantia resident Gordon Chunnett asked for indigenous trees to be planted for shade.
Professor Clive McDowell said Cape Town only had forests in ravines, greenbelts and the neglected Tokai Arboretum.
Dr Penny Brown, of Hout Bay, posed questions about trees being indigenous but not appropriate for the Tokai, Cape biome. And should priority be given to trees and shade or to a threatened critically endangered vegetation type, she asked. “We should be concerned about the national heritage of millions of years,” said Dr Brown.
The 31-day period for written submissions ends on Friday June 25. Comments for the first report must be submitted by Friday July 2. Focussed workshops will be held during July. Comments on the final report must be received by Sunday August 1. Email your comments to TCMF@sanparks.org.za or visit the SANParks website for more information.