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Media Release: TMNPâs Innovative Solution for Tokai & Cecilia Plantations

06 December 2007

Cape Town, Thursday, 6 December 2007 – Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) today presented revised Management Framework proposals for Tokai and Cecilia plantations.  The revised proposals were prepared in consultation with various stakeholder groupings including Dept. of Water Affairs and Forestry, City of Cape Town, Urban Forests Protection Group, Cool Forests, local ratepayers and friends groups, South African National Biodiversity Institute,  World Wide Fund for Nature, ICOMOS, and others, concerned with the biodiversity, heritage and recreation in the area. 

The TMNP said that the consultation process, arising out of the Mayor’s round table and the DWAF supported consultation process, was facilitated by Professor Richard Fuggle of UCT and had significantly widened the middle ground of public opinion and won over many from their polarised extremes of either wanting the entire plantations removed or the entire plantations to remain permanently. 

“It is thanks to this extended public process that a breakthrough new proposal for certain ‘Transition Areas’ will allow for replanting with non-invasive, exotic shade trees which may include certain pine trees such as pinus elliotii, in cyclical transition with restored endangered fynbos.  While minority extremes on both sides remain opposed, the majority opinion is delighted with this compromise proposal,” says Brett Myrdal, park manager, Table Mountain National Park.

Myrdal says the innovative, long term strategy which accommodates both shaded recreational needs and heritage concerns for maintaining urban edge planted landscapes while not undermining the core biodiversity objective which is the restoration of the endangered fynbos within these ‘transition’ areas.

In the designated ‘transition areas’, pine harvesting will be followed by a controlled burn of harvested compartments and then an eight-year period of fynbos growth allowing the fynbos to set seed and for these to be dispersed or “seed-banked” back into the soil. 

Thereafter non-invasive pine trees can be re-planted in these areas to provide shaded recreation areas and for ‘urban interface’ landscape purposes.  After about 30 years of providing shaded recreational areas, these pines will be harvested once more, the area burnt and another cycle of fynbos regrowth to flower.

In addition, the ‘transition areas’ will be linked by footpaths through the shaded routes along the periphery and through the rehabilitating fynbos areas.  The circular walkways will take one through newly planted unbroken shade and ‘broken’ shade routes along riverine corridors and existing planted heritage avenues.

These ‘transition areas’ are proposed for the lower Tokai area along the urban edge, as well as next to the Tokai Arboretum to nearly double its area of shade allowing for expanded picnic areas and also along the lower slopes of the Cecilia plantation.  The major shaded routes are proposed around the periphery of lower Tokai and from Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at Cecilia.

The revised Management Framework maintains the original proposal for consolidated areas to be cleared of plantation trees over the next 20 years.  This is in line with the lease agreement between DWAF and MTO Forestry and will allow for the rehabilitation of threatened fynbos vegetation types, Afromontane forests and riverine and terrestrial corridors.  Transition areas will obviously extend the life of shaded of walkways well beyond this time, with the progress reviewed continuously.

“We have globally special, and highly threatened fynbos vegetation seedbeds lying under the Tokai and Cecilia plantations.  As TMNP is a World Heritage Site, SANParks is obliged in terms of National legislation and international conventions to secure the long term sustainability of the ‘critically endangered’ Cape Flats Sand Fynbos (sandplein fynbos) and the ‘endangered ’Southern Peninsula Granite Fynbos’,” added Myrdal.  

The revised proposals secure in the long term, the core biodiversity areas and terrestrial and riverine corridors linking the sandplein fynbos of the Tokai lowlands to the granite and acid soil fynbos of the mountains.  This riverine corridor along the Prinskasteel River and the proposed terrestrial corridor are the only possible natural link between these plant communities and is vital if this natural heritage is to survive the pressures of climate change.

Civil society stakeholders also emphasized that the City of Cape Town also has a responsibility to provide shaded recreational areas throughout the six Planning Districts of the City Metropole, and that within this particular Planning District, the City and the Park’s planning should be integrated.

The TMNP sought views and had discussions with biodiversity, recreation, heritage and general stakeholders between October 2006 and October 2007.

For further information, please contact:

Mike Slayen
Conservation Planning Manager
Table Mountain National Park
Tel: 021 701 8692

Phumeza Mgxashe
Communications Manager
Table Mountain National Park
Tel: 021 701 8692
Cell: 083 589 8588

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