LETTER: Compromise on Tokai

2016-11-22 06:00

In response to your article on the Silver tree find in Upper Tokai (“Silver shoots”, People’s Post, 8 November): This discovery is unsurprising to any experienced fynbos ecologist. Silver trees have big seeds that get buried in the soil and are stimulated to germinate after extremely hot fires – which is exactly what the 2015 fire was.

Back in the 1990s there was a similar very hot fire on the back table of Table Mountain and a species of Priestleya (a hard-seeded legume), not seen for more than 100 years, suddenly sprung up. This accidental fire was extra intense because the Cluster pines that had covered the area surrounding the dams for more than 100 years had been felled and left – so the fire had an extra fuel load.

Hot fires with this kind of intensity have never been allowed to occur in Lower Tokai, given the proximity of the urban edge. Any soil stored seed banks left have not been stimulated to grow, except for a localised few individuals in a fire some 10 or more years ago that possibly was a local hot-spot.

The in-fighting over the future of Lower Tokai is extremely divisive when a meeting of the opposing parties, with a willingness to compromise, could result in a situation beneficial to both the biodiversity fanatics and the huge number of people who use the area for recreation.

Why is it that SANParks fail to consult when public consultation and remaining on good terms with their neighbours is an integral part of their mandate under the National Environmental Management Act and the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act?

Eugene, Kirstenhof

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