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The critical recreational value that the Tokai Forest brings to the people of Cape Town and especially to those in disadvantaged communities should not be overlooked, Parkscape says. PHOTO: Nicky Schmidt

If history is to be trusted, Cape Town is months away as the process of engaging stakeholders and the public for the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework Review (TCMF) kicks off later today. .

The public conversation around the land use of the Tokai and Cecilia forest plantations dates back to 1993, when the University of Cape Town’s environmental assessment unit was asked to prepare a report (The Policy for Multipurpose Use of the Cape Peninsula).

The report, which received extensive public comment, focused on the area stretching from Signal Hill to Cape Point. Regarding existing exotic forest plantations, he advised promoting them for recreational purposes due to their cultural significance.

The debate flared up again in 2005 when the then Water and Forestry Department (DWAF) announced that it had chosen to withdraw from forestry in the Western Cape.

SANParks was entrusted with the management of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) (which includes the plantations) on February 11 of the same year with the state corporation Mountain to Ocean Forestry (MTO) responsible for the management of Tokai and Cecilia for wood production.

Soon after, SANParks presented its draft management plan for the TMNP in which the organization said Tokai and Cecilia would be clearcut and devoted to biodiversity conservation and the regeneration of native fynbos.

Following a public outcry, a compromise was found: the TCMF. The aim of the framework was to provide shade recreation on a transitional basis, ensuring both shade and biodiversity conservation on a rotating basis. In essence, this would buy the Capetonians an additional 40 years of shadow.

Parkscape, a registered community-oriented NPO, has criticized the TCMF in the past, describing it as “a bad compromise between SANParks and the public”.

Nicky Schmidt, president of Parkscape, explains that the first 25 years of the frame’s timeline were meant to embody a transition process of having pines alive, followed by felling pines, handing over to fynbos, and then replanting of pines. trees. Tap repeat.

The TCMF was supposed to be revised every five years, but that has never happened (until now, that is). What happened was the large-scale logging of pines in the Tokai Forest in 2016 by SANParks and MTO.

Not having consulted the public in its decision, Parkscape took the two parties to the High Court in Cape Town, arguing that SANParks and MTO had not simply taken administrative action. In 2017, Judge Patrick Gamble ruled in favor of Parkscapes (“Preserved Tokai Forest”, People’s post, March 1, 2017). This was followed by an appeal, which Parkscape also won.

Tree felling has been stopped and, according to Schmidt, no replanting has taken place since.

The framework was due to be revised in 2015, but SANParks said it had been delayed by the peninsula fires, the litigation process from 2016 to mid-2018 and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cue 2021.

To kickstart and familiarize stakeholders with the review process, SANParks will be hosting a hybrid in-person and online meeting starting at 5:00 p.m. today (Tuesday, May 25) at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

Last week, SANParks said more than 135 user groups and individuals had already signed up to participate in the process, adding that the facilitation process was aimed at finding “realistic and viable options and scenarios for the future of businesses. Tokai and Cecilia areas as vital management sections of TMNP. ”.

Schmidt says that according to the TCMF schedule, the remaining forests of Tokai and Cecilia are expected to be harvested and replaced with fynbos in 2025 while the transitional planting takes place in other parts of these areas, noting that this plantation would have had to start. In a Facebook post dated May 19, Parkscape encouraged residents to participate in the public engagement process “if you want to see permanent shaded recreational space in these areas in the future.”

Perhaps the polarizing comments on the post are an indicator of what’s to come.

“I don’t want to live in a suburb lined with thick fynbos that have to be regularly set ablaze, offer shelter and hiding places to those looking for it and, let’s face it, it’s not pretty. Tokai Plantation is a small area in the bigger scheme of things, so let’s fight to keep it a shady spot for everyone to enjoy. Why should we be intimidated into accepting this? Alyson Farrar asked.

Rob Smith sees it differently.

“Yay! About the weather !!! One for biodiversity and conservation rather than human destruction. It’s good to see the plantation gone. For those who want some shade, they can move up to the arboretum route – win-win for all!

  • The registration period for speakers is open until November. Email TCMF@sanparks.org or visit https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/about/tokai-cecilia.php for more information.


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