Tokai pine trees to stay – for now

The Dennedal compartment of the Tokai plantation cannot be felled without a public participation process.

The remaining pine trees in Tokai have won a stay of execution in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

On Thursday March 1, the Bloemfontein court dismissed SANParks’s appeal against a high court judgment which said felling of the pines in the 25.5ha Dennedal compartment of the Tokai plantation could not be accelerated without a public participation process.

SANParks and its commercial partner MTO Forestry began felling the pines in August 2016 saying the veldfire of 17 months earlier, which had damaged most other compartments in the 600ha plantation, meant retaining them was not economically viable.

Felling stopped when Parkscape which formed to campaign for shaded urban parks on the fringes of Table Mountain National Park obtained an urgent interdict.

In March last year the Western Cape High Court said the planned harvesting of the Dennedal pines could not be accelerated without the public being consulted.

In response to the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment, Parkscape’s Nicky Schmidt said they hoped that SANParks was paying close attention to the judges’ comments.

“In the judgement, Judge (Nambitha) Dambuza makes it clear that given the extensive public negotiation process involved in the creation of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework , the public had a right to expect that SANParks would follow a similar consultation process before agreeing to the hasty – and almost clandestine – felling of Lower Tokai. She accordingly recommends that SANParks follow the same process going forward on the matter of Tokai,” said Ms Schmidt.