Judging by the turnout of supporters and their enthusiasm, the Table Mountain National Park’s second public Tree Planting Day on 20 May in the Lower Tokai area was a huge success.  At least 45 people from a wide range of interest groups and the media energetically dug holes and planted 150 indigenous trees.  Staff from City of Cape Town Nature Reserves and Working for Water pitched in to support the TMNP initiative which acknowledges the International Year of Forests (Tracy & Dalton Gibbs of CT Nature Reservesin photo to Left).  Representatives from the Volunteer Fire Fighters, Pedal Power Association, Friends of Vlakkenberg, WESSA, The Full Circle, interested locals and the councillor for Constantia enjoyed the opportunity to interact and to plant their own tree for the future along the new pathway off Dennedal Road.

Planting indigenous shade trees forms part of the Management Framework for the Tokai and Cecilia Plantation areas and is part of the vision for both the rehabilitation and recreational use of areas where pine trees have either been or are still to be harvested, explained Gavin Bell of TMNP.

I accepted the invitation to plant trees in Tokai even though it is outside the area of the Scenic South for two reasons (See yours truly in photo with a tall wild olive).  I am, unashamedly, an indigenous tree hugger and can’t fit any more trees in my own garden.  Secondly, the rate of reforestation of the upper Silvermine River and dam area with indigenous trees, after the great fire of 2000 that charcoaled much of the area, is living proof that shade in my life time can be indigenous.  Gavin Bell spoke with enthusiasm about the return of wildlife to these new indigenous forests, including the rare and secretive Cape Fox – nature’s stamp of approval!

Background to the controversial harvesting of the pines.

The pines in Tokai and Cecilia plantations are owned and being harvested by MTO Forestry in terms of their 20-year lease with the Department of Forestry i.e. they do not belong to TMNP.  The plantations were established by government in the early 1900s to provide timber.  When central government decided to phase out commercial forestry, the management of MTO’s lease was assigned to SANParks by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in 2004.

In terms of the lease and TMNP’s Management Framework, the plantation areas are handed over to SANParks’ management as the trees are harvested.  In acknowledgement of the recreational use of these areas, the Management Framework proposes shaded sections and routes in both Tokai and Cecilia.

The area where we planted wild olives, white stinkwood and karee trees is the first shaded route to be actively planted by SANParks along the newly established recreational route in Lower Tokai.  Just Trees generously donated 600 large indigenous shade trees half of which have already been planted.  The route accommodates walkers, dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders and is on the perimeter of the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos conservation area.  Once the pines have been harvested, work will proceed to rehabilitate the locally indigenous fynbos.

Future planting days will include stakeholders such as the Honorary Rangers, Junior Rangers as well as staff of the TMNP. Lessons learnt from the tree planting days may be used for the planning of public tree planting days in the future.

For further information contact Wanika Rusthoi – Public Relations Officer: Cape Region South African National Parks on 021 701 869  or 072 060 8188