Is SANParks rushing process for public to join Tokai Cecilia Forest review?
On Friday evening, Sanparks published a notice giving stakeholders and the public only 5 days to register in order to take part in the engagement process for the review of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework.
The registration window closes on Wednesday at 4pm.
Pippa Hudson talks to Table Mountain National Park's manager, Frans Van Rooyen, and Parkscape chairperson Nicky Schmidt.
What is the aim and scope of the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework review meeting scheduled to be held next week?
Tokai Cecilia Management Framework was a final document in which there was an agreement with regard to the felling of trees and transforming the invasive trees into a fynbos landscape.Frans Van Rooyen, Manager - Table Mountain National Park
Van Rooyen admits there was a litigation process in 2020 that delayed the first review of the framework, as well as delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We want to open the process and explain it to everyone.Frans Van Rooyen, Manager - Table Mountain National Park
Who should register for the review process?
He says the reason for the first review is to involve as wide a variety of stakeholders, interested and affected parties as possible.
I believe the review process will show us what the product will be. So, we don't know at this point in time what the final outcome will be.Frans Van Rooyen, Manager - Table Mountain National Park
Why is the registration window so short?
Pippa says the SANParks notice went out late on Friday afternoon and many would have only seen it on Monday morning giving them just two days to register.
It does not seem reasonable and with a jaundiced view, it almost looks like SANParks is deliberately trying to prevent people from taking part because they won't hear about it until it is too late.Pippa Hudson, Presenter - CapeTalk
Van Rooyen disputes this saying SANParks is very open to public participation and people will still be able to be involved throughout the process.
The public will not only have this period of time. Interested parties will still have opportunities to give comments, input, and requests built into the review process.Frans Van Rooyen, Manager - Table Mountain National Park
The only registration which needs to happen is we need to collect information to have contact details and plan 25 May as our first public engagement.Frans Van Rooyen, Manager - Table Mountain National Park
He says Covid-19 regulations also limit the numbers allowed at the meeting venue and they may possibly even do more than one session if required to accommodate all who wish to participate.
He estimates the venue will be able to accommodate 150 people.
Parkscape chair Nicky Schmidt disagrees with the short window for registration.
I still believe that we need to have a longer window of opportunity for people to register for the first meeting.Nicky Schmidt, Chairperson - Parkscapes
She says the way the message went out has created a great deal of confusion and needs clarification.
As always with SANParks, it is about communication and if you are wanting to involve people there has to be clear communication from the start.Nicky Schmidt, Chairperson - Parkscapes
While understanding Covid constraints, we would argue requiring registration is possibly a preclusive method of going about this.Nicky Schmidt, Chairperson - Parkscapes
She says the process has been several years in the making so this sudden rush with a 5-day window for registration raises question marks about SANParks' commitment to an open and fair public participation process.
To have such a sudden and rushed process after having gone through the litigation process to make the process more open to wider views seems ill-considered, she notes.
Schmidt also disputes Van Rooyen's statement that the Tokai Cecilia Management Framework will make way for biodiversity conservation.
The Tokai Cecilia Management Framework does not indicate that.Nicky Schmidt, Chairperson - Parkscapes
Listen to the interview below:
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