‘Save our park’s fynbos’

2016-10-25 06:00
Alanna van der Linder, Friends of Tokai Park, hands over the petition to Gavin Bell, Area Manager, SANParks showing their support for the cutting of the pines and the restoration of the critically endangered fynbos.

Alanna van der Linder, Friends of Tokai Park, hands over the petition to Gavin Bell, Area Manager, SANParks showing their support for the cutting of the pines and the restoration of the critically endangered fynbos.

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The Friends of Tokai Park (FOTP) have handed over a petition with over 2500 signatures to Sanparks in support of fynbos restoration at Tokai Park in Tokai Forest. Let go of the pines, they say.

The petition for lowland fynbos conservation received support from Tokai residents, other Capetonians and South Africans and even from abroad.

“We received support from signatories from as far as Hawaii and Europe. Global support for our conservation efforts shows the international significance of Tokai Park,” says Dr Tony Rebelo, FOTP chairperson.

Rebelo adds that Tokai Park is a significant conservation area for the entire city.

“Cape Flats sand fynbos is endemic to the city of Cape Town lowlands.

“There are currently 147 Cape Flats sand fynbos plant species threatened with extinction – this is an increase of 36 species in the last 10 years. Several plant species are already extinct. There are very few megadiverse vegetation types on earth occurring only within city borders.”

More than 320 plant species have naturally emerged following pine harvesting and fynbos restoration in other sections of Tokai Park (“Trees must not fall”, People’s Post, 6 September).

“Wildlife such as Cape fox, porcupine and caracal are now recorded here and more animals are expected to move in as further restoration takes place. We expect that close to 500 species of plants will establish naturally here – based on a historical study in the Bergvliet area,” says Rebelo.

Only 4% of Cape Flats sand fynbos remains in good condition, and only 1% is conserved. Tokai Park contains a large proportion of this area that can be conserved. With the threatened species it is a site of global significance.

This biodiversity exists successfully alongside well-used dog walking, running, horse riding and cycling routes through the fynbos, Rebelo says.

More people are using Tokai Park than ever before. Increasing numbers of visitors is commendable and proves fynbos and the Tokai community can live together.

The FOTP support:
. the harvesting of all Monterey pine plantations in Tokai Park;
. the ongoing restoration of critically endangered Cape Flats sand fynbos;
. the conservation management efforts of Sanparks;
. providing tree shade in adjacent green belts and parks where it does not compromise critically endangered fynbos;
. the maintenance of shade trees at the Tokai Arboretum, Tokai picnic site and the historical farmscape around Tokai Manor;
. the continued effort to shade perimeter paths in Tokai Park with indigenous trees;
. the naming and labelling of paths; and
. the construction of a safety viewing platform.

“Further, the FOTP deplore and condemn the wastage of resources on divisive legal matters. This is lost money that could have been spent on restoring fynbos, establishing shaded pathways in Tokai and uplifting needy neighbouring communities.

“The petition, handed to Sanparks, is a victory for fynbos conservation and the Tokai community. We will continue working with the Tokai community – and any interested party – to restore and protect the endangered fynbos ecosystem in our neighbourhood,” says Rebelo.

However, Parkscape, a community forum created to liaise with Sanparks, is against the cutting of the pines.

The forum created a legal battle to ensure that the Tokai forest is preserved. Forum organisers say they are concerned that Sanparks may be acting in bad faith with regards to the management framework, given the sudden rush to fell the trees.

The matter is being heard at the Western Cape High Court. The stakeholders involved will be back in court on Monday 7 November.

The cutting of the pines has been put on hold until the court hearing (“Felling put on hold”).

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