Minutes of the Public Meeting held at 19:00hours on Monday 22nd September 2014 at Fish Hoek Minor Civic Hall to hear views on issues related to the Table Mountain National Park and its surrounds
Alderman Belinda Walker welcomed those present and outlined the purpose of the meeting. She explained that the City of Cape Town and SA National Parks (SANP) have a forum at which issues of common interest are discussed. The forum flows from the Heads of Agreement (HOA) document which was signed in 1998 to establish the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). She mentioned that the HOA is in the process of being renegotiated as the original document covered the establishment of the Park which process has been largely completed. In addition, since the signing of the original HOA, new legislation has been promulgated which necessitates the need to draft a new document.
She also mentioned that the City and TMNP are in the process of implementing projects which extend beyond the boundaries of the Park such as Source-to-Sea and cooperation on heritage planning.
Alderman Walker also mentioned that the TMNP Park Management Plan is due for review next year. She tabled a copy of the Park Management Plan review process which she promised to forward as an attachment to the Minutes. However she emphasised that the meeting tonight cannot be construed as being part of the review process and that organisations represented tonight must ensure that they provide input direct to SANP.
Greg Moseley (TMNP Forum) stated that he is the last remaining member of the Table Mountain Forum which is now inoperative. He stated that it is important that this body be revived as communication between the public and park officials has worsened. He suggested that Prof. Jan Glazewski of UCT could assist with this process.
Glen Ashton (NEAG) expressed concern that the City might be transgressing on SANP’s responsibilities concerning the review process by holding this meeting. Alderman Walker stated that the City has no intention and indeed cannot interfere in the review process and that SANP were aware of this meeting.
Alida Croudace (Redhill Property owner) supported the comment by Greg Moseley. She stated that she was formerly a member of the Forum and prior to that the CPPNE body. The process did not work as candidates were selected by the Minister and there were no clear terms of reference.
Dave Cowley (Hout Bay Heritage Trust) recommended that a project be started to create jobs through forcing people to remove alien vegetation growing on private property within the CPPNE area. He recommended that the Council pass a by-law to help initiate the project.
Geraldine Gonsalves (Friends of the Dog Walkers) mentioned the poor performance of the Table Mountain Forum. Minutes were not kept and even when it did make recommendations the park officials seem to ignore them. She also complained about the lack of transparency concerning financial matters.
The incomprehensibility of the permit system was mentioned in that each member of one family needed separate permits to take the same dog for a walk in the park and that if they went without the dog then they would require a different permit.
Sandy Barnes (Far South Peninsula Community) expressed concern about the lack of a coherent plan covering the total CPPNE area. The CPPNE area constitutes the area covered by the World Heritage Site agreement. The same boundaries are also covered by the combination of the National Park and the fairly newly declared Buffer Zone. They have a plan covering the TMNP but not the total CPPNE area which was the original idea.
Doug Tunbridge (MCVA/Baboon Liaison Group) asked what has happened about the declaratory order instructing SANP and Cape Nature to contribute to baboon monitoring.
John Green (WESSA) supports Doug Tunbridge’s point and asked why SANP don’t even pay to monitor baboons in areas controlled by them such as Tokai. In terms of the Buffer Zone Act SANP should pay for damage caused by animals escaping from a park so in the case of baboons they should be made to pay.
He also contended that TMNP has ignored their own Tokai and Cecilia Management Plans by removing all aliens within the transitional shade areas.
Andre van Schalkwyk (Table Mountain Watch) expressed concern about the security situation on the mountain and complained that there is a lack of cooperation between the various enforcement agencies of City of Cape Town, SAPS and TMNP.
David Mocke (Surfski Paddlers) said that he was a paddler and that he had a problem with the fee structure of the activity permit system. He stated that when he complained he did not even receive an acknowledgement which also reflects on the poor communication of TMNP.
Chris Goldschmidt (WP Athletics) represents the running fraternity. He stated that it now costs between R50-R60 per person to run on the mountain and as many runners come from disadvantaged communities they find the cost unaffordable. Previously running clubs donated money to local rangers but now no surplus funds exist to do so.
Trail runners tend to come from a more affluent income group and they don’t appear to mind paying the fees.
He also understands that TMNP tried to charge the Cycle Tour an excessive amount of money to traverse the park.
Richard Cherry (Mountain Club of SA) complained about the poor communication of TMNP. He stated that the Club maintain the bolted crags on the mountain but they still need to purchase an activity permit from TMNP to access the sites.
Graham Childs (IUCN Parks Commission) stated that the present management system of the Park was archaic. Parks around the world are changing to a joint management system whereby the park staff and people living in the surrounding communities work together to manage the reserve/park.
He also mentioned that the marine component of the park is neglected.
Alderman Nicki Holderness (FSPCF) made the point that a major problem is that management of SANP is centralized in Pretoria and local officials have very little delegated powers. She contends that SANP existing operations are in breach of national legislation. In addition she complained about the lack of transparency regarding finance. TMNP is known to cross subsidize other operations of SANP but the lack of transparency concerning their financial data makes it impossible to know by how much.
Dave Cowley expressed concern at the lack of mention of heritage issues in the existing Table Mountain Management Plan. He stated that there is no need for park officials to spend time investigating what needs to be done about the issue all they need to do is to apply the National Heritage Act.
Alida Croudace complained about the Council’s Planning Department not recognizing the City’s commitment in terms of the World Heritage Site agreement and Buffer Zone legislation. Developments have been permitted that in terms of both statutes should never have been allowed. The original concept was to have a coherent management plan covering the full CPPNE area but this has never happened.
She mentioned that a CPPNE committee still exists and that the City of Cape Town is represented on that committee. Alida was asked to provide details of this committee as this was news to the representatives of Council present at the meeting.
Martin Hutton-Squire (Mountain Club of SA) complimented the Council for holding the meeting and was impressed to note the attendance of some 9 councillors which showed how committed the City was to issues related to the mountain. He recommended that the City should not fight with Parks Board in Pretoria but should seek to establish a much stronger intergovernmental body. He stated that the tourism industry was dependent upon the conservation and sustainable management of the mountain. He appealed to the City and TMNP to concentrate on ensuring the implementation of the Signal Hill people mover which would raise more money than all the permits put together. The City had a key role to play as it owned the Strand Street Quarry from where the people mover would start. If this project were implemented then TMNP could consider dispensing with the permit system.
Glen Ashton commenting on the previous speaker agreed that the key to success with this particular issue is co-operative government.
Sandy Hustwick (City of Cape Town) commented that the Heads of Agreement contains a clause which states the following: “An independent body shall be appointed annually by the National Park Committee to review and evaluate the administration and management of the park by the South African National Parks.” She asks why this provision has never taken place.
She also mentioned that part of this provision is that information should be provided to carry out the evaluation. Given the earlier comments concerning the lack of transparency about financial issues, surely SANP are in breach of the HOA?
Mike Shepherd (Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club) complained that he needs 15 different licences/permits to dive for crayfish within the park. Surely the system can be simplified?
Alderman Belinda Walker thanked everyone for their concise and interesting comments. She said that she had summarized the comments into 5 key areas namely:
– Engagement with Parks- the need for an active Parks Forum together with clear terms of reference;
– Financials- transparency and activity permits (costs, multiples and sensible approach.);
– Problem areas- alien vegetation, baboons and Tokai/Cecilia Management plans;
– Boundaries/Buffer Zone/CPPNE/World Heritage Site matters;
– Centralized decision making process.
Subsequent to the meeting Lorraine Holloway submitted the following submission:
Dear Alderman Walker,
Thank you for an excellent meeting last to discuss City engagement with the TMNP. There is something I would like to add to the points made last night. It pertains in part to the issue of aliens infestation of land as discussed last night. There was no opportunity to raise it last night.
I appeal to the City to be very fastidious when considering any development applications in the World Heritage buffer Zone/CPPNE especially where there is a spin off for TMNP. There are land owners who own large tracts of land seeking to develop this land. Part of their application proposes that they build on the property with many departures with the balance of the (alien infested ) land being transferred to TMNP.
It is the responsibility of every landowner to clear their land of aliens ,not to use it as a ‘bargaining chip’ to develop the land which will impact adversely on the WHS buffer zone and upset the balance. As Sandy Barnes mentioned there is legislation pertaining to the WHS/CPPNE which must be upheld.
There is also the aspect that private tracts of land in the WHS buffer zone are within baboon home ranges which will further raise baboon/human conflict. For this reason any development should stick strictly to ‘the book’ in terms of all relevant legislation.
Whilst it may to be to the advantage of TMNP to acquire land from private land owners, TMNP as yet do not contribute to baboon management despite the Declaratory Order referred to last night. And urban baboon troops on TMNP land (within their home ranges) are dealt with according to their own set of rules which places the baboons under threat.
And most importantly the WHS is part of the heritage of all peoples of Cape Town and should be preserved for future generations as should the wildlife.
Baboon Liaison Group
Glencairn Action Group
083 208 5089