Cape Town – Lobby group Friends of Table Mountain wants the management of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) to be handed back to the City, but the City says there are no plans to do so.
After what the group said was the continuing decay of the park, with a spate of muggings, poaching, overnight sleeping and industrial-scale bark stripping, and other forest destruction, it wrote to Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental (DFFE) Minister Barbara Creecy to appeal to her to return the management of the park to the City.
The group also wrote to mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to urge him to make efforts to have the management authority of the park transferred to the City.
Friends of Table Mountain chairperson Andy Davies contended that SANParks was incapable of managing the complex urban park, and that the public continued to be disappointed and had lost faith in SANParks’ ability.
Davies argued that the invasive alien vegetation continued to grow out of control, which he said had resulted in the public taking on functions such as trail rehabilitation, invasive alien plant removal, and security.
He said this was wrong when SANParks netted profits from the park but continued to manage it poorly.
“It is unacceptable that in 2019/2020, SANParks only spent R99 million on TMNP while making a substantial income of R370m.
“We are not seeing a tangible effort being made by SANParks management to improve TMNP or to, at least, commit to a bigger operational budget to provide more resources to address the problems plaguing TMNP,” he said.
Friends of Table Mountain’s plea comes amid reports that CapeNature was investigating taking over the park.
CapeNature said it presented its 2021/22 annual report to the Western Cape legislature last month, when, during deliberations, there was a question about the progress of the Rationalisation of Protected Areas Task Team.
Spokesperson Petro van Rhyn said CapeNature responded that the process had not progressed over the past year.
“An example of the outcome of the process could be that protected area management is reconfigured. CapeNature managing more protected areas in the Western Cape could be a possible scenario, and the Table Mountain National Park was mentioned as an example,” she said.
DFFE spokesperson Albi Modise said Creecy noted the letter and had requested the SANParks chairperson to report on what had happened since 2020.
Spatial Planning and Environment Mayco member Eddie Andrews said the City would continue to engage with SANParks “through its partnership agreements to find suitable options to manage and control unwanted activities within the park”.
He said there were no formal engagements regarding whether the City or any other entity of the government should take over the management of the park.