The Cape Aflame Project Team enquiries@mikegolby.com

Parkscape Running on Empty in Tokai

Parkscape - Photograph and video: CSR Newsroom
Photograph and video: CSR Newsroom

There is an irrational hatred of trees sweeping the peninsula and unless we all stand up and actively refuse to tolerate it we will, very shortly, be living in a windswept dustbowl with no chance of changing our minds – it takes a lifetime to grow a tree!

Strategic Decisions 2006

 

 

Touted as a “win” for Parkscape (by Parkscape), which has thrown hundreds of thousands of Rands at a wasteful bureaucratic process you or I could process through any South African court, Parkscape’s temporary interdict against SANParks and MTO Forestry (formalised by the High Court last Friday) constitutes perhaps the greatest misallocation of much-needed private resources I’ve come across.

As noted to a friend in an e-mail:

“[T]hat Parkscape will now further strip the assets of idiots living in the area to argue that the interdict be made final amounts to little more than consensual extortion.”

“Parkscape notes that its application for a temporary interdict was made on the grounds of a misapplication of administrative justice in terms of, no doubt, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Act 3 of 2000.

“In short, it tells us it knows it has no grounds to oppose SANParks’ or MTO Forestry’s actions – only the procedures used to carry them out.”

The point I’m making to my friend is that Parkscape, in its bid to stop the felling of pines at Lower Tokai in terms of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025 (TCMF), may be flush with cash – but, when it comes to substantive arguments needed to derail the TCMF, it’s running on empty.

All it can come up is, “It’s unfair.” (See Section 6(2) of the Act)

To abuse an old saw: administrative justice appears to be the last refuge of the scoundrel or sulking child.

Parkscape’s case against SANParks and MTO Forestry reportedly hinges on “the lawfulness and validity of the felling decision and whether or not a public participation process is necessary.”

Bar a miscarriage of justice and absent sight of the founding affidavits, I cannot see this temporary interdict, as it stands, being made final at the High Court hearing set for 10 October 2016.

This litigious spanner, thrown into the works when Parkscape approached the court on 1 September, has dire consequences. It represents, to all Capetonians, a savage blow to their negotiated public-participation processes and casts grave doubt on the integrity of a small but unabashedly undemocratic lobby group hellbent on seeing its short-term interests override the long-term vision of others party to the TCMF.

Would that many of our wealthy residents, swept up in the heat of the moment by short-sighted self-promoters who’ve played them like cheap fiddles, had channelled their fiscal munificence to the restoration and preservation of our unique biodiversity or the funding of voluntary visitor-safety initiatives.

They did not. They chose to mount a rearguard action against the TCMF and what little hope we have of restoring a miniscule piece of our Cape Flats Sand Fynbos.

Its not just about the forestry exit strategy…

Its not just about SANPARKS and Biodiversity mandate and that cash register ringing…

Its not just about Fynbos Fanatics who would delight in creating a treeless moonscape for us all…

Its also about NOW getting a moratorium and declaring a managed & permanent forest declared as a public heritage.

Strategic Decisions 2006

 

It is left to our conservationists, ecologists, botanists and scientists – who enjoy the active and passive support of most South Africans and their corpus of law, as well as private, local, provincial, national and international entities and experts – to save us and our natural heritage from the most destructive and avaricious among us.

Equipped with the necessary knowledge and a realisable vision benefitting all of us and our environment, they are more than up to the task.

No matter the outcome of this emblematic contretemps, history and the natural world will judge the self-entitled bigotry and ill-informed prejudices of the few to be nothing more than cheque-book thuggery.

And it will roll over those supporting this ridiculous legal fiction.

Our aim is a working plantation with Urban recreational and conservation aspects all tied in together.

Strategic Decisions 2006

The Tokai Cecilia Management Framework (TCMF) and its implementation

Does my above “table pounding” reflect reasonable frustration at Parkscape’s obstructionist tactics?

Let’s explore the issues.

From pronouncements made by Parkscape and its successful application for a temporary interdict against SANParks and MTO Forestry, we can assume it represents those seeking (in order of priority):

  1. administrative justice based on the procedural implementation of the Tokai and Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025 (TCMF) which – agreed to by all of us after a lengthy and vigorous consultative process involving all stakeholders, constitutes the much-sought-for compromise between SANParks’ and our nearby city dwellers’ long-term interests
  2. the safety of visitors to the Lower Tokai section of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP)
  3. recreational shade for visitors to TMNP’s Lower Tokai section

Because the costly temporary interdict granted Parkscape addresses only the issue of administrative justice, we’ll deal with it last. As the issues of recreational safety and shade inform the most visible and vocal content of Parkscape’s campaign against SANParks and MTO Forestry (and are addressed in the TCMF), we’ll interrogate them first.

What’s in the TCMF?

Before we do so though, let’s agree to what has been agreed to in the TCMF, published in its final form in 2009 – because, as noted above and as attested to by Parkscape in many public statements, we agree that it addresses our concerns.

Moreover, for the sake of reasoned debate, let’s all accept that the ‘realised vision’ enshrined in the TCMF does not constitute an overnight ‘event’. It outlines a ‘process’ enabling SANParks to implement the TCMF by 2025.

Pictorially, SANParks and our vision comprises the following.

Tokai Cecelia Management Framework
Lower Tokai Park, as envisaged in the Tokai – Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025 (2009) p29. The Framework represents a consensual compromise reached through transparent participatory processes.

In 2025 (or by the end of next  year, given the March 2015 Muizenberg Fire), we will have no commercial pine at Lower Tokai. More, if the TCMF is to be realised by 2025, commercial pine should be removed (completely) many years before then.

The TCMF shows most of the area covered in critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, restored from existing and extant seed banks, and a portion of the land (close to the Porter Estate and along the Ondertuine and Dennedal Avenue boundaries) allocated to dynamically shaded transition areas.

The TCMF also provides for continuous and broken shade routes along and linking riverine corridors to recreation areas.

What are these ‘transition areas’? Much has been said of them by Parkscape activists and much criticism has been levelled at SANParks for not having initiated their ‘planting’.

Again, the TCMF offers us a diagrammatic representation of a ‘transition area’.

TCMF Tramsition Areas
Transition Areas envisaged by the Tokai-Cecilia Management Framework see a 30-year rotation of felling, fire, fynbos rejuvenation, exotic-tree planting and shaded areas.

In terms of the agreed-to TCMF, each of the three-shaded transition areas accords to a process and time line clearly indicating that it will take 10-20 years before each area offers us shade.

The time line could not be more specific:

  1. Commercial pine plantation – harvesting the existing pine compartments;
  2. followed by a biodiversity burn to stimulate fynbos growth;
  3. allowing fynbos growth for about 8 years for the seeds to be returned to the soil;
  4. after which non-invasive pine trees [perhaps] are planted;
  5. allowing for about 30 years of growth to provide for shaded recreational area;
  6. during this period the fynbos dies back due to shading; and
  7. harvesting of pines [perhaps] allowing fynbos to return.

Tokai Cecilia Management Framework Figure 2 p32

The time line moves cyclically from tree felling through a biodiversity burn, eight years of natural fynbos restoration, rejuvenation, recuperation and reseeding, the planting of non-invasive pine or indigenous trees, 8-10 years of tree growth leading to mixed vegetation, approximately 10-20 years of full shade and fynbos die back and, lastly, we start a new 30-year rotation by again felling the trees and rehabilitating the fynbos.

What’s the procedure?

It’s vitally important that we bear in mind that a biodiversity or prescribed burn and reseeding presupposes fynbos capable of rejuvenating itself – ideally after eight years of growth.

In 2005, Lower Tokai was wholly under pine. By 2009, SANParks – or its lessee (Cape Pine/MTO Forestry) – had cleared three small sections and, in 2010, it cleared a significant portion suited to the rejuvenation of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos and other vegetation.

This is important. MTO Forestry enabled (interpret the word as you want) the reestablishment of fynbos in Lower Tokai six years ago, a year after the TCMF was published. SANParks happily allowed its managed lessee to go about its business and harvest pines owned by it in several compartments.

The result?

All too predictably, and in flagrant violation of the terms and spirit of the agreed-to TCMF, we saw a small but vociferous minority denounce the felling as an outrage. The distressed mob’s public windbags promptly resorted to every available media platform to air tried-and-tested populist hyperbole to sabotage it and the TCMF.

A decade later, and using the TCMF as our layperson’s guide, we know SANParks and its partners to be capable of seeing off their miffed detractors and, remaining true to the TCMF, committed to giving the existing fynbos time to reestablish itself from seed banks long dormant under commercial pine.

As laypeople and residents, we might therefore expect biodiversity burns and transition planting to take place late in the summer of 2018, ridding Lower Tokai of much of its now head-high fynbos for a few years.

Will SANParks conduct such burns and plantings in an area the size of Kenilworth Race Course while it remains surrounded on three sides by highly combustible commercial pines protruding into a built urban area?

Yes. I have it from impeccable sources that burns have been conducted in the area and that the risk of fire, such as we saw when a fire storm whipped through Tokai Plantation, torching houses in Zwaanswyk last year, is negligible. It would have to be so. Imagine the litigation were Dennedal Avenue to go up in smoke.

So, to a layperson, that’s where it seems we stand as far as implementation of the TCMF is concerned. Much remains to be done and there is no time for delay.

Its now coming to a head and its clearly in conflict with us!
Our URBAN forests are an asset way more valuable as alive trees than as dead wood.

[…]

Something funny is going on and I hope it isn’t as shallow and bovine as just a pot of cash at the end of the rainbow for working for water and Guy Preston and the SANParks lot!

Strategic Decisions 2006

What’s our vision?

Tokai Cecelia Management Framework

Tokai Cecelia Management Framework
Picture 1 of 6

Table Mountain National Park was proclaimed in 2004. At the time, Lower Tokai was under commercial pine owned by MTO Forestry on leased land managed by SANParks.

The next step, if we are to see the TCMF implemented, is to have the remaining Lower Tokai pines removed, burns conducted, and already existing transition areas planted with trees.

Parkscape: Ensuring the Safety of visitors to Lower Tokai?

Angus and myself and Mike Weir went for a cup of coffee with two of the MTO guys and the feeling is that it literally could be “the stroke of a pen” that can reverse the forestry exit strategy. Somehow once that happens forestry can return and we can somehow work out what to do from there.

Strategic Decisions 2006

Okay, let’s address Parkscape’s commitment to visitor safety here. It’s something about which we can be quite blunt.

The murder of Franziska Blöchliger

We have seen the senseless and brutal murder of young Franziska Blöchliger in Tokai Park in March this year used and abused by those opposing implementation of the TCMF to both allege and argue a lack of visitor safety in an area partially vegetated with head-high fynbos.

Linking visitor safety to this event is as natural as it is unfortunate, but it is profoundly disrespectful to the memory of the young high-school student.

It is a base and emotive appeal to our senses that should not be made. As an argument, it holds no water. It is invalid.

Life, to abuse another old saw, happens.

The map below shows the Kirstenhof SAPS reporting area. Each year, according to recently released police crime statistics, two or three people are murdered in the area. And I mean two or three people: two in 2012, three in 2013, two in 2014, three in 2015 and two in the 2016 reporting period (when Franziska’s death was recorded).

Parkscape - Tokai Crimes Statistics 2015/6
Crimes reported in the SAPS Kirstenhof policing area for the period 2015/6. Source Crime Stats SA

Hmm… it’s a tough neighbourhood but, then again, it’s not Nyanga.

TMNP is, for the most part, an open-access national park and is as susceptible to crime as the surrounding area. Lower Tokai falls into a policing (national competency) area that we cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, call a crime hot spot.

The nut of it is that Franziska’s murder was a crime rather than a fynbos-related matter.

Nevertheless, no matter how callous we may believe ourselves to be, we always feel the tragic and needless death of a young person.

The tragic death of Melissa Cronje

Fourteen years after her death in March 2002, 6-year-old Melissa Cronje’s parents no doubt still mourn the loss of their child. Melissa might have been looking forward to her 21st birthday this year, but she was killed, and her 10-year-old cousin critically injured, when a gum in the picnic area at Lower Tokai fell on her.

The botanists, ecologists and conservationists among us fully appreciated the circumstances of Melissa’s unfortunate and needless death.

Did they exploit it to argue for the removal of pines and gums in the area?

No.

A rotten gum had as much to do with Melissa’s death as fynbos with Franziska’s.

While we may, contemplating Melissa’s case, more readily draw inferences of a lack of foresight on SANParks’ or MTO Forestry’s part, no readily available evidence points to such inferences having been made.

Nonetheless, we know that SANParks takes the safety of its visitors extremely seriously. I have written elsewhere on this site and on Facebook of the visitor-safety initiatives undertaken by SANParks, its partner organisations (including the SANParks Honorary and Volunteer Rangers), SAPS, the City, its policing agencies and other entities.

The truth, if we are honest with ourselves, is that all of us visiting TMNP are infinitely safer than when we are not visiting TMNP

The role of advocacy

We need to build a groundswell of public opinion and force the City, as co-signatories on the Heads of Agreement between SANParks and City, to intervene. It is critical that you write to the press as a matter of urgency.

To make things easier, we have provided nine letters for you to send.  We have also provided Afrikaans translations of the letters further down the email. We would suggest that you choose whichever letter resonates with you, and if you’re willing, to change the letter in a way that makes it your own. (The press are not going to publish the same letters over and over again.)

Parkscape 2016 | Mailing to Supporters

Why, beyond the existence of the agencies mentioned above, can we be so sure our safety is so highly regarded in our recreational and wild spaces?

Because of the magnificent advocacy work done by civic organisations such as, but not necessarily including, Parkscape.

Our National Park, City parks, Green Belts and other public parks (be they managed by SANParks, the City, CapeNature, other organisations and/or partnerships) are all infinitely safer for the passion of people such as those supporting Parkscape.

Their dedication and commitment to ensuring our safety must be encouraged rather than derided.

As far as Parkscape and the TCMF is concerned, I may appear to “have it in for” Parkscape’s high-profile members. In general, this is not so.

I merely question their claims, credentials and integrity based on their public communications.

Parkscape’s thin advocacy

The first slide of Nicky Greaves’s presentation to members of Parkscape, advocacy groups, SANParks officials and the public at a Community Meeting held at the Alphen Community Hall on 20 July 2016 (Part I and Part II), chaired by Duncan Greaves, asks “What is Parkscape?” and goes on to answer the question. It is an:

  • Association of concerned community members seeking to create safety – from crime and fire – in the transition zones of Table Mountain National Park.
  • Starting with Lower Tokai as a potential model.

Slide 7 tells us that “the original Parkscape” was formed in 2006.

By definition, TMNP has no ‘transition zones’. It has ‘visitor use zones’. The TCMF tells us:

Tokai can be divided into three broad planning areas, namely Tokai Manor precinct, Lower Tokai and Upper Tokai. In line with the CDF [see Volume I and Volume II], Tokai Manor precinct is identified as a ‘high volume, mixed use visitor site’ in a ‘high intensity leisure use zone’ whilst the bulk of Lower and Upper Tokai are designated as ‘quiet’ use zones accommodating a variety of low impact recreational activities, with the re-aligned Picnic-Braai area designated as ‘low intensity leisure’ use zone.

Tokai Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025 4.1 p13

These, as they say, are they.

TMNP CDF Visitor Experiential Use Zones
TMNP CDF Visitor Experiential Use Zones

We have addressed ‘transition areas’ above. SANParks and the TCMF explain them in great detail.

So where do these people come from?

We need to move fast and may I ask you for some help?

Maybe you can join us in the next meeting.

Normally we meet at the Constantia nek restaurant around 4.30 PM on a Thursday or Friday ?

Strategic Decisions 2006

Its About Us statement (at the foot of each page) claims:

The Parkscape team is made up of concerned residents, local Park users and professionals who are experts in their field – ranging from botany to forestry, biodiversity and town planning.

We can test the veracity of this claim. To do so, I urge you to visit Parkscape’s highly informative Background and History pages.

They tell us little of Parkscape, offering only a lengthy litany of ill-informed, technically incorrect complaints about SANParks and its management of TMNP. They also attempt to undermine the legislated fact and existence of TMNP, claiming – incorrectly or mischievously – that it is an ‘urban park’.

We find no evidence of Parkscape fighting fire and crime since 2006. Instead, we find a tasteless appeal to emotion at the foot of the Background page:

On 7 March 2016 the brutal rape and murder of a teenage girl took place in the fynbos section of Lower Tokai. This terrible tragedy has brought the issue of crime and safety in the Park into sharp focus – yet when asked as to how they will manage this problem, SANParks has failed to respond.

In light of this tragedy, along with another murder, multiple rapes, stabbings and muggings throughout the Park – and the reluctance of SANParks to engage with concerned citizens – the vision was born to reclaim the buffer zones for the people of Cape Town, starting with lower Tokai Park as a potential model. The objective is to create safe urban parks for all. Parkscape enjoys the City’s support on all issues pertaining to safety and security for residents, including those on the mountainside.

Parkscape | Background

In short, Parkscape is an angry group of residents from the Tokai area (some of whom appear to be prone to hysteria and in dire need of personal bodyguards) that came together following young Franziska Blöchliger’s murder. Distraught, they decided to “reclaim the buffer zones for the people of Cape Town” from SANParks, built a website and, without much thought or research, proceeded to level baseless allegations at all and sundry.

It should be noted that buffer zones – which Parkscape seeks to “reclaim” – comprise the following:

In TMNP 17,500 hectares were inscribed as part of the initial declaration as part of the core area of the TMNP component of the CFRPAWHS. With the extention nomination in 2015, the core area increased to 22,000 hectares. A WHS buffer area, comprising properties which made up the CPPNE and the Park’s consolidation footprint were also identified in the initial 2004 application.

On 30 January 2009, the then Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism proclaimed by Government Notice (GN. 31832) the CFR as a WHS in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act (No 49 of 1999). For the TMNP component of the WHS, the core and buffer properties were declared (Annexure 1).

In 2014, an extension nomination was approved by the IUCN, the World Conservation Union to include additional areas of the TMNP into the WHS core area and managed accordingly (Annexure 6: Map 4). It is envisaged that as further land is consolidated into the Park, these properties can at a later stage, when a further extension of the WHS is contemplated, be incorporated into the TMNP WHS core area. Through this on-going process, the WHS buffer areas will become WHS core areas.

Table Mountain National Park – Park Management Plan November 2015 | 8.3 Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site pp54/5

There is no evidence – from Parkscape – of a decade of concern for others’ safety or fire on the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). There never has been. The “original Parkscape” was merely one stakeholder group among many to make submissions for consideration by those drafting the TCMF in 2006/7.

Parkscape has always been running on empty. And it has escaped public scrutiny because nobody has looked beyond its neat logo.

Tokai residents seeking shade now in the dark

Is this table mountain, via SANParks now becoming the exclusive playground for world Biologists where the Local Cape Town natives and habitat is not even remotely on the radar ?? Considering almost ALL OF OUR TREES and forests are foreigner species from cape town to jonkershoek to Stellenbosch!

Strategic Decisions 2006

We move to Parkscape’s second argument – a need of shade.

We’ve reviewed the process by which the TCMF will be realised. It is a process to which we and, if its communications are to be taken at face value, Parkscape agree.

It makes provision for permanent, continuous and broken shade.

Let’s revisit the paragraphs in which we acknowledged this:

In 2025 (or sooner, given the March 2015 Muizenberg Fire), we will have no commercial pine at Lower Tokai. More, if the TCMF is to be realised by 2025, commercial pine should be removed (completely) many years before then.

The TCMF shows most of the area covered in critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, restored from existing and extant seed banks, and a portion of the land (close to the Porter Estate and along the Ondertuine and Dennedal Avenue boundaries) allocated to dynamically shaded transition areas.

The TCMF also provides for continuous and broken shade routes along and linking riverine corridors to recreation areas.

Again, through the broad consultative process that resulted in the final TCMF, this is the compromise we agreed to.

All we need now do is ensure that SANParks plays its part in delivering on the TCMF through due process.

SANParks Regional Communications Manager Merle Collins assures us it will do so:

“Following the public participation process initiated by SANParks in 2006 regarding the rehabilitation of the areas and future plans for Tokai and Cecilia, the Tokai and Cecilia Management Framework successfully achieves the compromise many have called for. The management framework is being implemented on an on-going basis and the proposal for planting of ‘transition’ areas is being monitored and assessed for the planning of these areas.”

Constantiaberg Bulletin 11 August 2016

As communicated by SANParks, we know that a significant part of the TCMF’s implementation process – the planting of transition areas essential to the TCMF’s success – is preceded by MTO Forestry removing its commercial pine from Lower Tokai.

This is being done. Or it was being done.

Parkscape and its supporters – afforded opportunity to hasten the realisation of the TCMF, have delayed and seek to continue to delay its implementation (by way of planting indigenous or non-invasive pine trees in the transition areas) for at least a month, taking our fynbos precariously close to its “grow by” date for the year.

They have repeated the same foolish error made in 2010/11 by the self-styled Urban Forests Protection Group (aka Coolforest) and Shout for Shade, a prominent member of which was Professor Eugene Moll – who should have known better, but didn’t, and is back at the crease for Parkscape.

Compounding their error, Parkscape and its supporters have resorted to funding obscenely expensive litigation to justify their foolhardiness.

Why?

We find the answer to this by addressing the first leg of Parkscape’s fight with SANParks and MTO forestry – its perception of being denied administrative justice.

The Interview that said nothing and everything

If the lease could be bought for R45 000 lets do it. That means 45 people pay a thousand rand or 90 pay R500. I am sure we could raise this sort of money. But we only pay if the living timber is managed properly by suitably qualified people.

Strategic Decisions 2006

“What it really comes down to is administrative justice”, Parkscape spokesperson Nicky Greaves (Schmidt) told Pretoria FM last week. “In 2006 we negotiated a document called the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework with SANParks and with the City of Cape Town – and that allowed for areas of shaded recreation as well as biodiversity.”

All well and good. So what’s the problem? Nicky continues:

What appears to be happening with this very rapid felling which has taken us all by surprise is that there will be a deviation from that Management Framework and that is being done without any form of public consultation.

Eh? Does that make sense to you? That the felling of commercial pine, needed if the TCMF is to be implemented, indicates a deviation from said Framework?

I don’t get it either.

The TCMF represents the administrative decision and its implementation the action of the administrator.

It is something with which we all agree.

The felling of pine in Lower Tokai is not the implementation of the TCMF. It is a commercial forestry operation.

Nicky has, however and from the start of the interview, given us a clue to Parkscape’s retrograde logic by referring to the state’s 2001 forestry exit policy.

Note

The state’s forestry exit policy of 2000 enabled the state forestry company SAFCOL “to exit 45 000 hectares of the 70 000 hectares of plantation forestry in the Western and Southern Cape. These areas were to be converted to agriculture, housing and conservation.”

The contract to fell the forests by 2020 was awarded to MTO Forestry in 2001. In 2005, following fires in the Tsitsikamma area, MTO decided forestry to be profitable. It therefore petitioned government to do an about turn and reverse its exit policy. Following the VECON report undertaken for DWAF in 2005, which recommended that the state return 23 000 of the ‘exited’ 45 000 hectares to forestry, government agreed to do so.

This is solely a forestry issue. It has nothing to do with our National Park. However Nicky uses it to lay the groundwork for her exit strategy at the outset of the interview.

Look, there was a forestry exit policy in the Western Cape – I think it was done in about 2005 by the then Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry. It was then partially reversed, but it didn’t include any of the Boland or the Tokai and Cecilia plantations.

Now, you tell me. Of what were Tokai and Cecilia not a part? And does it matter?

The interviewer points out that a regional manager for TMNP’s “southern section” (Gavin Bell) had stated that the felling offered an historic opportunity to rehabilitate Cape Flats Sand Fynbos in the area – and that the decision to rehabilitate the area had been taken 20 years ago.

Note

The Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment (CPPNE) proclaimed in 1989 became the Cape Peninsula National Park (CPNP) under SANParks management in 1998. From 2001, it was managed in accordance with its Conservation Development Framework (CDF), based on the CPPNE Use Zone Map compiled the CSIR in 1996. Table Mountain National Park was proclaimed in 2004.

It’s complicated. But it’s enough to say that Lower Tokai has been managed as part of the CPNP and TMNP by SANParks since 1998, based on statutory demarcations made 20 years ago.

Let’s see how Nicky deals with this curved ball from a clearly well-informed interviewer:

They were…look…the, y’know, with the exit strategy they were going to chop down the trees but, you know that wasn’t…that wasn’t the plan 20 years ago. The plan only came into action with the departure from the forestry in the Western Cape, and that decision was – as I say – taken in 2005.

Nicky has her dates, which are known to her, hopelessly muddled.

The forestry exit policy came into being in 2000. Its partial reversal, which had everything to do with forestry and nothing to do with areas falling within the CPPNE, was decided on in 2005.

If you look online, you will find that in 2000 Jeff Radebe, who was then Minister of Public Enterprise I think it was, and Ronnie Kasrils who was Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry both said that the plantations in Cape Town should remain because they provided critical shade and recreation for the people of Cape Town, particularly those from disadvantaged areas.

Let’s check that out.

The Tokai and Cecilia state forests will be incorporated into the Peninsula National Park as part of the restructuring of the government forestry company – South African Forestry Company Limited (Safcol) – the pubic (sic) enterprises minister, Jeff Radebe, announced on Thursday.

[…]

“The plantations will continue to serve as important recreational areas,” Radebe said.

IOL | Parks get forests from Safcol restructuring 14 September 2000 14 September 2000

Context is everything. Radebe’s comment was made during the announcement of the forest exit policy in 2000 when SAFCOL rid itself of forests it assumed to be unprofitable – particularly in the fire-prone Western Cape Fynbos Biome.

Tokai and Cecilia continue, to this day, to serve as important recreational areas – subject to SANParks’ CDF, Use Zone maps and mandate as custodian of a national park. They form an essential part of the Park’s buffer outlined above.

As for Minister Radebe, much like the Fuggle and Huntley Reports cited by Parkscape, experts and the public make off-the-cuff or advised comments and suggestions. However, it is up to our elected authorities to accommodate them in legislation. Fuggle and Huntley recommended, in 1994 and 1995, that management of the Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment (CPPNE) be handed over to SANParks and their recommendations were given effect in 1998.

So, after listening to this interview, we are left asking ourselves, “What on Earth have …

  • administrative justice
  • the state’s forestry exit policy of 2000
  • its partial reversal of that policy in 2005, and…
  • a September 2000 comment by former Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe

…to do with each other and MTO Forestry felling trees in Lower Tokai during August and September 2016?”

Put simply, the answer is “Absolutely nothing.”

What, we might ask ourselves, does this interview with Parkscape’s Nicky Greaves tell us of the organisation for which she speaks?

Put as simply, the answer is “Everything.”

Distorted facts, misinformation and disinformation are Parkscape’s stock in trade. We know that much from its website. Its assumption is that we Capetonians are stupid. More bluntly, it is banking on the old adage, “Bullshit baffles brains.”

It does not.

The above interview serves only to obscure the facts, which are:

  • SANParks leases Tokai Plantation to MTO Forestry
  • MTO Forestry loses most of its crop in the March 2015 Muizenberg Fire and needs to fulfill its contractual obligations by harvesting its Lower Tokai compartments
  • Felling in Lower Tokai suits SANParks as it will expedite implementation of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025
  • SANParks manages TMNP and is, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA) of June 2004, legally compelled to rid the area of invasive aliens
  • SANParks Regional Communications Manager Merle Collins advised us on 11 August 2016 that, in terms of the TCMF, transition areas are being monitored and assessed for planting

So what’s the deal?

Parkscape saw an opportunity to make a name for itself by subverting the TCMF and extracting concessions (a halt to felling) from SANParks?

Okay, but is that all there is to it?

Angus and myself and Mike Weir went for a cup of coffee with two of the MTO guys and the feeling is that it literally could be “the stroke of a pen” that can reverse the forestry exit strategy. Somehow once that happens forestry can return and we can somehow work out what to do from there.

Strategic Decisions 2006

The councillor for the Tokai area, Leon van Rensburg, has suggested that the city should withhold the R40 million over three years requested by the park, in order to negotiate with it to save the pine trees.”

“Rebelo, who works for the SA National Biodiversity Institute at Kirstenbosch, said this suggestion was ‘hypocrisy beyond belief’.

‘Are the mayor and her councillors unaware of their own city’s conservation plans? Are the national and inter-national obligations simply to be ignored for political |expediency?’ he asked.

‘The truth is that the City of Cape Town should be giving SA National Parks all the support, encouragement and money it needs, so that Cape Town can effectively achieve its own conservation objectives.'”

John Yeld | Biodiversity plan means Tokai pines have to be axed, Zille told

Administrative justice?

The Cape Aflame, muizenberg fire, 2015, fire, wildfire, fire-progression, fire-progression map
Sound administration A fynbos wildfire, posing little threat to properties, approaches a well-tended CPFPA firebreak on the Wildland Urban Interface during the March 2015 Muizenberg Fire. Photograph: Danie Coetzee

I do hope that the zealots dont get to them. Every time I drive down constantia nek I am in awed of these giants.

I am forwarding this to various supporters who may be able to advise and help or be sharing similar unfortunate situations.

I am blind carbon copying to them for their confidentiality. so please should you be able to help or advise Ian in any way please email him. Who knows how this kind of networking may help!

Strategic Decisions 2006

Read the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Act 3 of 2000.

It exists:

To give effect to the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair and to the right to written reasons for administrative action as contemplated in section 33 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.

It seeks to:

  • promote an efficient administration and good governance; and
  • create a culture of accountability, openness and transparency in the public administration or in the exercise of a public power or the performance of a public function, by giving effect to the right to just administrative action.

Jolly good stuff.

But we have, in our Tokai – Cecilia Management Framework 2005-2025, our reasons for administrative action taken by SANParks and MTO Forestry. They’re doing exactly what we asked of them – preparing to implement our shared vision of a National Park of which we as Capetonians can be proud.

In terms of administrative justice, it is noteworthy that the only time line set out in the TCMF is that proposed for transition areas.

However, to delay or scuttle the TCMF, a run-of-the-mill street lawyer might think it possible to throw Chapter 5 of the Framework before the court and argue it to perpetuity.

Chapter 5 of the Framework (page 18) clearly states:

The Tokai and Cecilia management framework is a framework for further planning and not a plan for implementation. Implementation will be achieved through more detailed landscape, precinct and lower level planning which will involve key stakeholders, the public, specialists and scientists as required. This framework articulates a vision for Tokai and Cecilia by indicating broad landscape level changes to guide management and volunteers.

To implement this framework a series of lower level, detailed plans need to be produced, and implemented where these are already in place.

In Section 5.1, it sets out the required plans.

• Plan for the conversion of the old ‘Bosdorp’ to a SANParks Science Research Centre
• Tokai Manor Visitor Site precinct plan (with Province)
• Landscape plan for the re-aligned, rehabilitation and upgrade of the picnic/braai area
• Restoration plans for the ‘endangered’ Peninsula Granite fynbos and the ‘critically endangered’ Cape Flats Sand Fynbos areas
• Rehabilitation and planting plans for the identified ‘transition areas’
• Recreational use and footpath routing plans
• Prinskasteel and wetland ‘Source to Sea’ restoration plan
• Management plan for historical trees
• Arboretum Management Plan
• Assess existing infrastructure and facilities (to determine appropriateness in relation to the Management Framework proposals)

How many of these plans exist and how many have yet to be made final? We do not know (if only because they are difficult to find on the SANParks site), but what we do know is that, in light of March 2015’s Muizenberg Fire,  damage to the Arboretum and other entities in the  Tokai Precinct, plans being finalised and MTO Forestry’s need to harvest its timber crop in Lower Tokai, SANParks and Table Mountain National Park, in the Position Statement: Tokai and Cecilia Plantations released on 26 August, advised us that:

…the Tokai Cecilia Framework will be reviewed in 2018 through a structured public process.

In short, those charged with taking administrative action to implement the TCMF have notified us that, in terms of Chapter 5, the Framework will be opened to public review, allowing us to comment on and make recommendations.

Such public review is afforded us, as stated in the Framework, “as required”. In short, SANParks – as the Framework administrator – has given us notice that it will approach us in 2018 for input it feels it needs on plans finalised in terms of Chapter 5.

As for Parkscape? By crying foul and staking its whole, albeit non-existent, case against SANParks on procedural irregularity, it shows itself to be running on empty. It has blown even its own cover story. Skipping from safety to fire to shade as its core issues over the period of a month, its final resort to an appeal to “administrative justice” shows it to care little for any of the “issues” it has raised. It is determined to delay the felling of pines in what remains of Tokai Plantation for as long as possible.

We cannot fall into the trap of this SANPARKS gasworks of a public participation to decide on the land use after the forests are gone! Its absurd.
The time is now.

Strategic Decisions 2006

The only sane conclusion

Need to lobby the Ministers of Forestry and Environment affairs through ALL available political contacts to have the exit policy reviewed in the light of all the concerns of the public of CT. In writing followed up by an interview with both or at least Foresrty. If necesssary we can use some of our funds to fly a spokesman to Pretoria. Sylvia suggested contacting the DA shadow Foresrty person or the Mayor of CT to represent the concerned citizens of her city.

Strategic Decisions 2006

Parkscape is not interested in securing your safety from fire or crime. It cares little whether you get to enjoy trees or fynbos in our National Park. It speaks for those who see property prices in the greater Constantia Valley tanking as the area becomes divorced from its 18-20th Century fantasy of a shaded boreal “forest” in the heart of the Cape Floral Region and is forced to join other Cape Town suburbs on the Cape Flats, where our Sand Fynbos is of infinitely greater value to future generations than the prices fetched for the houses of a few.

Our green-leaf property owners are well aware that one can insure against fire but, once the trees go, the neighbourhood will be reduced to Rondebosch East.

Parkscape is a shell, a fiction full of sound, fury and social media that will accomplish nothing. It’s guiding message is “Ermagard!” and all it has to show for its terribly misguided activities are three pieces of paper with red rubber stamps and the delayed implementation of the TCMF.

Capetonians will look to their and others’ safety by contributing time and money to SAPS, SANParks, the City, our Honorary Rangers, Table Mountain Visitor Safety, our myriad neighbourhood watches and auxiliary law-enforcement organisations, Table Mountain Watch, the Mountain Men and, in a city with a precariously steep WUI, our Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association and wildland firefighters.

As Capetonians, we join “our conservationists, ecologists, botanists and scientists – who enjoy the active and passive support of most South Africans and their corpus of law, as well as private, local, provincial, national and international entities and experts – to save us and our natural heritage from the most destructive among us.

 

 

‘I wish it was just like a building of cement and stone that you could throw at the ground to build something thing beautiful but its not ….Its an old and brilliant thought by some-one somewhere of planting the seed and then this so slow…. year by year growth free and protected and immune from some imbecile developer or bio-fascists obscene ideas about ethnic cleansing and indigenous purity.

Strategic Decisions 2006


Mike Golby writes – at length and, occasionally, with reactive venom – in his personal capacity. His views and the way he frames or articulates them do not in any way reflect or seek to reflect the views of The Cape Aflame Project Team.

As a member of the Cape Aflame Project Team, a group committed to supporting those who protect our biodiversity from an ever-increasing number of urban-based threats, he is as entitled to air his views as Parkscape.

A notable difference between his material and that issued by Parkscape is that he makes no claim to represent anybody but himself – as an ordinary Capetonian with access to information in the public domain. Nor does he send hate mail.

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5 thoughts on “Parkscape Running on Empty in Tokai”

  1. Many thanks, Lee, but I’m afraid Joe Conrad just had to go. Modern literature and irony, like fynbos, just do not work in our era of dumb consumerism.

    I thought it perhaps better to more clearly illustrate the text by feeding readers the words of Parkscape supporters and strategists who’ve left their footprints all over the Web (and now the Wayback Machine).

    I mean, why would the Greaves couple’s most ardent lieutenants leave their plans to

    • spend donated money on flights to Pretoria
    • lobby politicians (with whom, in the cases of Van Rensburg [2006] and Purchase [2016] it seems they enjoyed remarkable success)
    • influence MTO insiders, and …
    • work towards “… a working plantation with Urban recreational and conservation aspects all tied in together”

    …on the Internet?

    And communicate with each other in a Grade 2 language and grammar far divorced from their obsequious official pronouncements?

    Are they stupid? And, by extension, are we not stupid for allowing the the same small cabal to get away with this duplicity for more than a decade?

    The same names crop up throughout a ten-year campaign to deceive the Cape Town public – which funded their extraordinarily deceit.

    That wealthy Capetonians could so easily be suckered into funding and supporting the destruction of a global Heritage Site – containing more endangered species than the total species counts of most countries – is staggering.

  2. Now *that’s* what I call running on empty -- to hold up these pathetic scraps of ancient blogs as evidence of some vile conspiracy to defraud the public. This is too ludicrous for words.

    It’s a pity you didn’t keep the Conrad theme. Heart of Darkness is, at its root, the story of how esurient self-obsession can masquerade as high-minded nobility.

  3. Duncan, I’m afraid we must agree to disagree on this matter.

    Heart of Darkness certainly touches on manifest greed, whether immediate or at one or two removes – but it plays an insignificant role. It is a footnote to a deep study of the evil of which we, as individuals or as a species, are capable.

    Nor do I find self-obsession in this great work. Self-obsession gazes not into the abyss, but into Narcissus’ reflecting pool – leading to a madness or hubris (rather than a nobility) of a very different type.

    Perhaps I am missing something in a much-loved work, but I have yet to have it pointed out to me.

    Some 20 years before the appearance of Heart of Darkness, Nietzsche published Beyond Good and Evil. One of his most quoted aphorisms (146) might well serve as an introduction to Conrad’s work:

    “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

    Conrad’s genius, in Heart of Darkness, is to use irony – a device at which he was remarkably adept – to show us how irony can itself be easily abused to evince hypocrisy capable of the greatest evils.

    Marlow, as we all do at some stage, gazes into and plumbs the abyss to find Kurtz, who feeds on and is consumed by evil. To abuse Nietzsche, Kurtz has become a Faustian monster.

    Marlow emerges remarkably unscathed from his journey and his encounters with the many variously evil characters he meets (a small irony denoting Marlow’s apparent goodness).

    In Heart of Darkness, Conrad’s characters and, by extension, all of us become characters in Dante’s Inferno – occupying different stations or circles of Hell.

    It seems we are good and evil by degree.

    Marlow, like us, is apparently merely touched, brushed or stained by an evil redolent of Original Sin, made evident at the close when he is unable to repeat, to Kurtz’s fiancé, his final words.

    Yet that small dishonesty has to make for one of the most vicious closes to a novel I’ve ever read – for Marlow’s seeming discretion, i.e. his white lie or insignificant untruth, paints him every bit as vile as Kurtz.

    It is his all-too-human discretion – that thin veneer of self-deception that marks a civilised man as surely as it marked Kurtz – that allows Marlow (and all of us) to overlook the overwhelming hypocrisy that enables and excuses the horrific excesses of empire in all its forms.

    Conrad highlights how our small deceptions bespeak our all-embracing deceit.

    This is surely our greatest irony and the source of all mendacity. Kurtz, the learned man of virtue who sets forth to save the Heathen, finds himself the greatest Heathen. Marlow, who has seen, met and grappled the greatest of evils, turns his back on Kurtz but fails – at the last – to recognise Kurtz in himself.

    Heart of Darkness is a profound and utterly devastating work. It forces us confront, much like the French man-of-war drifting off the coast…wait, let’s revisit that passage:

    “Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech — and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives — he called them enemies! — hidden out of sight somewhere.”

    Conrad forces us to confront our impotence to take on the seeming absurdity of our task of overcoming evil. Ironically, what he depicts in this passage is anything and everything but a French man-of-war lobbing shells into the jungles of Africa.

    But that again is irony – the expression of meaning through language signifying something opposite to, or other than, the subject at hand. He paints us incomprehensible; our ensigns limp as rags, taking potshots at the enormous hypocrisy of our greatest dilemma – our capacity for evil.

    We must make for a droll and lugubrious sight indeed.

    By painting a true picture of us, Conrad causes us to mull his question (unspoken in as much as Marlow’s deception of Kurtz’s intended masks that which we know hangs heavily in the air) : How do we overcome our duplicity so that we may begin to confront and overcome evil?

    That, of course, makes for another discussion altogether. For our answers, we need – perhaps, like Nietzsche – to look Beyond Good and Evil. However, as someone who appreciates Conrad, I trust you’ll find my analysis of Conrad’s intent in Heart of Darkness of interest and point out any misconceptions I may hold of this great work.

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