I’ve never really been much of a tree-hugger.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love trees, a lot, and think the world would be in a horrible place without them, but I’m not fanatical enough about them to attach myself to one to prevent its demise. Not so far, anyway.
I must look like one, though, since it has recently been brought to my attention that large swathes of trees on Cape Town’s mountainsides are being cut up and carted away en masse. And that there are a lot of real tree-huggers out there who are rather upset about it.
Having noticed, in a distracted after-work fashion, that some rather ugly patches were indeed appearing up above Cecilia and Constantia Nek, but having not (tut tut) paid them too much attention, I decided to look into it and see what everyone is so fussed about.
Unfortunately, the website is a bit hysterical and difficult to navigate.
But, if you have patience and a little time on your hands, the site does contain quite a bit of information in the form of scanned-in newspaper clippings, links to controversial media releases from the Ministry of Water and Forestry and news about the future of dog-walking in the Table Mountain National Park.
The way I understand it is this:
The Urban Forest Protection Group believes that the forests are being stripped of trees purely to line the pockets of SANPARKS execs, without any thought for the citizens of Cape Town (and their dogs), and that the mountain will soon be laid bare.
The Dept of Water Affairs and Forestry, however, claims that its intention is not to remove plantation forests, and that SANPARKS has “indicated that they would retain the commercial forestry areas, as an integral part of their conservation efforts”.
Something’s not quite adding up.
I’m all for going back to indigenous roots, and I love fynbos, but I can’t quite imagine walking up those mountains without the benefit of a little shade (preferably a lot). Can you?