Green flag in the wind

2017-02-14 10:25
A plan to audit the Lion’s Head trail to achieve green flag status looks to bring a boost to the Signal Hill precinct

A plan to audit the Lion’s Head trail to achieve green flag status looks to bring a boost to the Signal Hill precinct (NIcole McCain)

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Lion’s Head may be the first trail in Cape Town to achieve green flag status.

Sanparks is planning to do an audit to find out what is needed to bring the trail up to status requirements, explains senior section ranger Jannie du Plessis.

The Green Flag Trails system is an internationally recognised approach to addressing and enhancing trail quality through auditing, assessment and monitoring.

Achieving green flag status requires a “scientifically assessed trail audit”, which will define a clear plan of action for future maintenance and responsible management.

“There will be a training workshop followed by a trail audit by certified trail auditors. They will submit an audit report,” Du Plessis adds.

Over the last few years, the number of walkers on the trail has increased significantly, says Louise Farrell, chairperson of the Friends of Lion’s Head. Based on counts by the organisation, over 500 walkers use the trail during the week. This number triples on weekends, Farrell says.

This increase in walkers impacts the path.

“Lion’s Head is one of the top 20 paths rated by National Geographic,” she says. “But we’re really worried about the sustainability of Lion’s Head. The volume of walkers has an impact not only on the path but on the environment.”

While the green flag status won’t necessarily improve concerns such as litter, the audit will make recommendations on the path, lookout points and signage, Farrell explains.

Sanparks already has a number of trails in Tsitsikamma and the Garden Route National Park that have been certified as green flag trails.

The decision to “bring the trail into alignment with the demands and needs of the trail users” follows concerns raised by various roleplayers about “the trail sustainability and facilities at Lion’s Head, given the increased number of trail users over the past years”, Du Plessis says.

“Primary amongst these is the path condition and safety of the trail itself. The large number of trail users now frequenting the trail over weekends and on full-moon nights arguably makes this one of Africa’s most climbed peaks, with associated risks and safety issues,” Du Plessis adds.

“The trail experience is being significantly compromised as pathways and path surface conditions are not adequate for the large volume of two-way movement of walkers, runners and dogs.”

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