Hopefully sensibility will prevail

Dr Berta van Rooyen, Tokai

The SANParks meeting, on Tuesday May 25, about the review of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework (TCMF) refers (“Tokai Cecilia Management Framework review launched”, Bulletin May 27).

The parameters for the participation of stakeholders were set upon fairness and equal standing. Although the entire Tokai-Cecilia plantation land is involved, the focus has shifted very early to lower Tokai Park. The burning issue is the fire risk of the plantation to the immediate homeowners.

Stakeholder engagement is an integrated process. Shade walkers have known since the late 1990s that commercial forestry will be terminated. Yet no alternative place was sought. The 60-year usage was premature in 2006 and at odds with the new dispensation since 1994.

At the peak of apartheid in 1970, permission for dog-walking off-leash east of Orpen Road was given to win the favour of the “upper class”. This coincided with the forced removals of four coloured communities from the valley. In 1981 this “upper class” voted 85% against a proposed housing project for employees of three nearby coloured institutions (jail, school, hospital).

In 1982, the Cape Peninsula Mountain Chain Reserve was formed, which included the entire Tokai Plantation and confirmed that the plantation land fell outside the urban edge and extension.

In 1935, the Department of Forestry successfully applied for exclusion from the newly formed Constantia Divisional Council. The plantation land was always state land and includes the 1672 treaty between a jurist of the Dutch Government and the Dutch East India Company with the leaders of the Goringhaiqua. The mutual cultural marker was fynbos land for hunting by the San, renosterveld for the Khoina herders and the Dutch East India Company who “farmed” the fynbos for fuel and the wood in the kloofs for timber. The plantation heritage is embedded in tens of tangible and intangible markers on Tokai Park.

Since 2016, propaganda was used to protest against the plantation exit and SANParks. This infringed on the rights of other stakeholders, i.e.homeowners of Dennedal or the mandated fynbos rehabilitation. Protest is not engagement and has been rejected by the Integrated Environmental Management plan for stakeholder engagement (2002) of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Propaganda and physical protest (including ribbons on the fence and marches) get politicised and stall engagements, talks and management.

Does the interdict infringe on the reduction of the fire risk? The owner of the trees is bound by several laws like the Forestry Amendment Act (2005) which includes the 1998 Forestry Act. Accordingly, Section 20 (3) requires (iii) restrictions to prevent fires and (v) to prevent harm to any person or property. The responsibility to maintain the fire-belt lies with the landowner according to the National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998.

Does one stakeholder prevent others from meeting their responsibility? Hopefully sensibility will prevail.