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Table Mountain National Park
People and Conservation
Expanded Public Works Programme
In 2004 TMNP received a R35 million Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) grant from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. The project aims to:
- Upgrade Park infrastructure in order to soften the footprint of tourism and protect the biodiversity of the Park.
- Reduce poverty in the communities that border the Park by providing training and employment opportunities. These communities are: Masiphumelele, Red Hill, Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay Fishing Village, Ocean View, Westlake and Loyolo, with some recruits coming from other communities on the peninsula.
- Upgrade Park facilities to ensure that the Park becomes a world-class tourism destination. The facilities upgrade is a long-term investment in a move towards creating a sustainable future for biodiversity conservation through tourism revenue.
- Spread social benefits of managing a National Park in the City of Cape Town
The programme is being delivered on time and with enormous success proving that conservation, job creation and the delivery of the Hoerikwaggo Trail as unique tourism products can be a resoundingly successful combination delivering social upliftment and growing the regional tourism economy.
This is evidenced by over 400 people from the seven communities around the Park currently involved in skills development, training or contract work, the improved infrastructure of the Park and the completion of the first two Hoerikwaggo Trail in a suite of four.
Workers who have been trained under the EPWP will all have developed skills that will enable them to compete on the open market once the programme is complete.
The programme was launched by former Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Valli Moosa and has been enthusiastically supported by his successor, the Honorable Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
The EPWP is divided into various work streams each with their own dedicated teams involved in a variety of skills development and training programmes. Please read on for more insight into the type of skills that are being developed through the programme.
The administration of a R35 million, three-year project is no easy task and involves many people working behind the scenes ensuring that everything runs smoothly and that the work standards are of the quality required.
The Financial and Administration Team are located at the Table Mountain National Park Office in Orange Kloof. These men and women are responsible for ensuring that the project functions efficiently and their tasks include wage administration, supply chain management and payment.
With over 400 people from areas as far a field as Westlake, Hangberg, Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Imizamo Yethu, Red Hill, and Loyolo it is vital to have a team of transport providers to transport them to and from work. All transport service providers were appointed via tender and are run though the Expanded Public Works Programme.
Project Sign Off
Once a project such as footpath upgrade is complete the maintenance becomes the operational responsibility relevant section ranger. For this reason each section ranger both approves any plans for projects that fall within their jurisdiction and sign approval on completion.
Programme and Project Management
A project of this scale requires rigorous and meticulous management at various levels. To this end under the supervision of an overall programme manager a team of supervisors, advisors and project management oversee each phase of the programme roll out.
A ground breaking aspect of the programme is that the TMNP has managed to factor in lunch provision for the trainees and workers three-time a week – a first for any public works project in the country. The meals, designed with the assistance of a Woolworths nutritionist, are RDA compliant and are prepared in five kitchens located in the townships bordering the Park.
In June 2004 the seas around the peninsula were proclaimed as the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area which is managed in partnership by TMNP and Marine and Coastal Management. As marine management is new to the Park a team of Coastal Monitors have been trained to monitor all coastal and inshore activities. They have been trained to input data into palmtop computers that function using blue tooth technology. Data collected includes information as diverse as quantities and type of bait being harvested, recreational use, the location of litter and faunal sightings.
The regular collation of this data will assist us in the management of our precious marine environment.
At the outset of the project TMNP had an 800 kilometre network of paths and roads most of which were in need of an upgrade. A decision was taken to upgrade 350 kilometres of foot-paths and provide strong durable paths that would lessen the erosion and soften the footprint of tourism. The remaining 450 kilometres of footpaths, many of which are duplicate routes or minor tangents, are being rehabilitated to fynbos which is a significant percentage considering the TMNP's total land area of 25 000 hectares. Paths have been constructed out of locally available stone where possible, much of which was sourced from the Chapman's Peak road works and transported in gabions, airlifting where necessary, to paths requiring upgrading. Where appropriate, such as trough Afromontane forest and wetlands wooden boardwalks have been constructed.
As TMNP is primarily an open access park there are numerous points from which TMNP's annual quota of 4.2 million visitors can enter the Park. Several of these are more utilised than others and a selection of these have been identified for improvement. Through improving and formalising these access points it is hoped that it will contribute to our management of visitors and encourage higher use in those areas. This will serve the twofold purpose of having in place durable facilities that can cope with visitor numbers while offering visitors a quality environment as well as lessening the impact on other areas.
As an open access Park and international tourist destination surrounded entirely by the City of Cape Town TMNP has a variety of visitor management priorities including mountain safety and security issues. To this end a team of Visitor Safety Officers and Rangers has been recruited to assist visitors by advising them around mountain safety information as well a patrolling the high use areas on the urban edge as precaution against any criminal or illegal activities. Visitor Information Centres have been installed at strategic points across the Park and serve as information centres and gateways to the Park as well as being points from which patrols are deployed.
The facilities that fall under this team have primarily involved the upgrading or building of precincts intended for accommodation for the suite of Hoerikwaggo Trail such as the People's Cabin, the Overseers cottage and the tented camp prototype at Orange Kloof.
The team is also responsible for various smaller projects such as a path upgrade at Willis Walk (Boulders Penguin Colony), the demolition of unwanted structures (Red Hill and Cecilia Plantation) and fence building (Groote Schuur Game Camp precinct) and infrastructure work such as the drainage situation at the Noordhoek Beach parking lot.
The TMNP Forest Rehabilitation Programme is a proud conservation initiative with two out of four sub-projects funded by the EPWP. Both are vital management aspects that will contribute to the longevity of our pockets of Afromontane forest.
- Gap management – City/ DEAT
- Weed Control - DEAT
The Gap Management Project started in 2004 and aims to manage the felling of big forest trees (mostly alien) in order to minimise damage to the forest canopy which can be extensive if a large tree with an expansive crown falls naturally. After specialist felling they also do intensive rehabilitation in order to accelerate natural rehabilitation.
This project is an excellent example of social development through conservation. The six staff have been trained in arboriculture, and advanced chainsaw skills as well as business management.
There are around 360 alien plants in Newlands forest alone – most of them invasive. These aliens are garden escapees which pose a real threat to the natural diversity of the forests. In order to stem this deadly tide of growth a team has been recruited and trained to specialise in alien clearing in forested areas. This includes the ability to distinguish between alien and indigenous seedlings.
A main focus of the Expanded Public Works Programme has been the roll out of the suite of four Hoerikwaggo Trail as the development of these unique, nature-based tourism products not only provided an excellent training ground for our path building and facilities teams but promise to generate important tourism revenue for the Park going forward.
To this end we have trained up a team of professional guides to lead hikers on the trails. The guides have received comprehensive practical training such as first aid, orienteering, field guiding and search and rescue as well as tourism skills equipping them with essential knowledge about the flora, fauna and history of the city and the mountain.
Our focus on visitor management includes a Park-wide signage upgrade that aims to ensure that hikers are provided with comprehensive and accurate information in order to minimise the number of people who get lost on the mountain as well as to assist rescue operations. Due to the harsh nature of mountain weather it was necessary to devise a system of signs that would be durable as well as vandal proof.
This was achieved through the development of signage hubs which consist of stone bases and stainless steel information plates. A team of workers have been trained under apprenticeship to a master stone mason in all aspects of stone masonry, from harvesting the stone, cutting it to size and finally constructing the hubs. Once the EPWP is complete the workers will be able to sell their specialist skill on the open market.
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