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Media Release: TMNP Celebrates 10th Birthday, Highlights Key Milestones & Shares Vision For The Future

Date: 14th August 2008

Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) today officially celebrated its 10th birthday, highlighting the major milestones achieved since the Park was proclaimed 10 years ago.

Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) today officially celebrated its 10th birthday, highlighting the major milestones achieved since the Park was proclaimed 10 years ago.

Delivering a keynote address at the function, Mr. Brett Myrdal, Park Manager for Table Mountain National Park cited ecosystem restoration through land acquisition, alien clearing, fire management and path building.  He said the quality of the natural capital (the TMNP), previously managed by 14 authorities, had improved considerably in the past decade, yielding major economic benefits for the Cape Town and Western Cape tourism economies.  “The Table Mountain range is the backbone of the local and regional tourist economies and the Park is privileged to be its custodian.”

Myrdal said one of the key successes achieved has been the delivery of social benefits through the Park’s poverty relief programme, which enabled the Park to use over R40m worth of funds from DEAT Social Responsibility Programme to upgrade 250km of the footpath network, build “touch the earth lightly” tourist accommodation, and provide training opportunities to previously unemployed people.  The programme employed 600 people a year for the past five years and included the training of world class Hoerikwaggo mountain guides and the development and support of SMME’s from within the communities bordering the TMNP.

The TMNP has set itself the goal of being the world’s premier urban Park by 2010.  The challenge of a down-turn in both local and global economies, and of increasing urban crime – also a global reality as social inequalities widen - requires proactive measures.  "Cape Town's urban park will experience both these threats and without strategies to counter them, the Park's financial vulnerability due to its reliance on tourism revenues will be exposed," Myrdal warned.  "We are increasingly aiming at domestic tourism and improving our visitor safety." In addition the Park has a proven ability to deliver on large scale poverty relief projects, which contributes to closing the poverty gap while improving Cape Town’s tourism infrastructure required for urban economic growth.”

Myrdal said the economic downturn will also provide the impetus to share resources by partnering with the other conservation agencies in order to achieve common goals.  These include forming a partnership with the provincial government to employ mountain guides, or partnering with the City of Cape Town and Cape Nature in respect of the land encircling the whole False Bay, the largest Bay in Africa.  "This will allow its proclamation as a Marine Protected Area and in turn protect the globally-renowned breeding site for the Great White Shark," he added.

The Park's partnership with the City of Cape Town and its citizens needs to be guided by the bold vision that Cape Town can be a city within a national park, rather than a merely a national park within a city, Myrdal suggests.  "To achieve this, the notion of “reconciliation ecology” can be applied to the neglected Cape Flats lowlands, whereby citizens of townships and suburbs can choose to see themselves as part of nature and live in a way that supports nature and enhances natural connectivity between otherwise isolated mountain islands, both within the Park and between the Park and the hinterland.  Birds, pollinator insects and small animals can make their way through these areas if residents plant local, provide bird feeders, stop using insecticides, and have fauna permeable property boundaries.  Wise waste management to stop baboon raids is part of this “living with nature””, adds Myrdal.

Another opportunity to consolidate Cape Town's rich conservation capital will be to link the TMNP and Robben Island - both World Heritage Sites - in a formal partnership.  “You would get the proper balance of natural and cultural heritage conservation and these two sites could be managed to world class standards,” says Myrdal.  “And then Cape Town could really say “This is why, along with Rio de Janeiro, we are the most beautiful city in the World,” he concludes.

Issued by:

Table Mountain National Park, Phumeza Mgxashe, Communications Manager.

Enquiries:

Phumeza Mgxashe, Communications Manager, Table Mountain National Park, Tel: 021 701 8692, Cell: 083 480 1522.

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