No justification for ‘overgrowth’ removal

2015-04-30 14:58

THE article “Overgrown vacant land, criminals’ hideout”, 24 April refers. In the article the owner of a business accuses criminals of using an “overgrown” neighbouring plot of land from which to launch their misdeeds. The photograph accompanying the story depicts a walled property with mature trees and largely indigenous vegetation.

To my eye, this is very attractive. That kind of vegetation is the main reason I live on this coast. It is, quite frankly, staggering that Verona Baldi, owner of Positano Lodge, cannot see that her problem with criminals does not justify her demanding the destruction of non-invasive vegetation in a neighbouring property whose owner is entirely within his rights to keep his land as he sees fit.

It is equally stunning that she can see no beauty in our natural coastal vegetation, and cares nothing of the need to preserve the few remaining remnants of our lush subtropical environment and wildlife habitats. I hope the patent unsoundness of this attitude will prevent it gaining currency among any but the ignorant and visually illiterate.

If these large trees and undergrowth were destroyed, which would be an irresponsible and, quite rightly, unlawful act. Rampant weeds would immediately take root and proliferate and render the property an eyesore and another ecological disaster area. These weeds on the scarred land in turn would continue to provide cover for criminals and would stifle regeneration of the natural vegetation which is an important part of our heritage.

If it is acceptable to claim that a criminal threat is encouraged by neighbours’ plants, whether indigenous or exotic, then by the same token it would be acceptable as well as reasonable for the owner of an “overgrown” vacant plot to state that occupied properties in the area are the magnets for criminals and that, if breached, the true fault is that these properties are ineffectively secured. This would be a perfectly rational response.

The roots of the problem are nothing to do with neighbouring trees, but with our maladministered economy, failing law enforcement and justice and education systems and the consequent helplessness and poverty, to say the least of a very poor work ethic among too many in rapid moral decline who openly state that it is quicker and easier to steal what someone else has earned than to earn it oneself. Quite clearly, the destruction of coastal vegetation and the defacing of gardens are not viable or decent solutions to these problems.

Steven van Staden

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