Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) takes pleasure in announcing the re-opening of certain burnt areas which had been closed off to the public. The areas had to be closed off following the March fires for the safety of visitors, and to allow natural systems to recover. Restoration work started immediately after the fire with attention to both restoring access as well as the natural elements. TMNP Management was encouraged by the general compliance to these closures and appreciates this patience with the restricted access. Now, five months after the fire, fynbos recovery is showing great progress and mountain lovers can once again look forward to their favourite hikes and to see the wonders of fynbos.
The recovery of fynbos had been closely monitored by a number of scientists, studying the return of plants and animals after the fire. SANParks Regional Ecologist, Carly Cowell, has worked with the rehabilitation teams and is satisfied with the diversity of plants returning, as well as the distribution of plants across the burnt area. Camera traps and spoor are providing evidence of animal movements while other signs show the return of insects, birds and reptiles to the area. “However, everything is still in a very delicate stage,” says Cowell.
For example, Protea seedlings are out by the hundreds, but only the size of a fingernail and can easily by crushed or disturbed. Rangers even report sightings of grysbok, but these are exceptionally skittish as they have no cover from predators (or man). Park management has therefore been advised to open the burnt area in a phased approach, where veld recovery and footpath rebuilding has shown good progress. Area Manager Gavin Bell says: ”teams have been hard at work implementing rehabilitation plans to allow for the re-opening of certain areas.” This has certainly been the case in the mountains above Lakeside, Muizenberg, St James and Kalk Bay which TMNP foresees re-opening to the public at the start of SA National Parks Week which runs from 14th – 19th September 2015 and is a week of free entry to all parks in the country (see: http://www.sanparks.org/about/events/parks_week/).
Permitted recreational activities in the re-opened areas mentioned above will continue as before, including hiking and dog walking with people kindly requested to remain on demarcated footpaths and to be mindful of rules pertaining to keeping dogs under control.
Re-opened paths following the fires in the park include:
- Pecks Valley
- Bailey’s Kloof
- Spes Bona
- Echo Valley
- Trappies Kop
- Ou Kraal and
- Steenberg Plateau
In the Cape of Good Hope section of the park, the Gifkommetjie and Circles Vlei areas are now open to the public after the area was extensively burnt in March. T eams have been working around the clock to re-build the various walkways and footpaths destroyed during the blaze. Burnt infrastructure has also been replaced as well as the demarcation of existing routes and the inclusion of new, more visible signage. The unique Olifanstbos Beach-Cottage at Cape Point was also closed and is now open for bookings (see: www.sanparks.org/tourism/reservations/).
Teams are now moving to the rest of the Silvermine area including the mountains above Hout Bay, Noordhoek and Constantia as part of the rehabilitation programme with the re-opening of this part of Silvermine envisaged by the end of December 2015. The Upper Tokai section of the park remains closed with rehabilitation work still in progress. However the possibility of an opening by end of next year is in sight. We plead for more patience and ask that people assist us by remaining out of all burnt areas while Mother Nature heals herself. We will be sure to communicate all changes as they take place.
Public Relations Officer:
Table Mountain National Park
South African National Parks (SANParks)