Regular Table Mountain Park users will know that in recent years, worryingly limited efforts have been implemented to reduce erosion, repair boardwalks and generally protect and maintain an asset that is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Not only an iconic element of Cape history, Table Mountain and surrounds forms a critical role in job creation and tourism revenue, in addition to being a treasure of biodiversity and environmental importance. Locals rely on the park for an outdoor space in which to explore, maintain fitness and escape city life. A park for all, they said.
Due to the greater Table Mountain National Park being fragmented by urban development and privately owned land, it is divided in to four management areas. Each has an Area Manager, who in turn manages a team of senior section rangers, section rangers and field staff. These teams manage operational activities in their areas, including biodiversity, alien clearing, fire management, visitor management and law enforcement. Funding of Table Mountain National Park is primarily by SANParks as a national body, with its primary coffers operating out of Pretoria. The City of Cape Town also contributes to the Park, but does not manage it.
SANParks makes R40million out of the Cableway concession every year, and a reported R200m annual profit from the park in total. None of this is ring-fenced in the Western Cape, or specifically allocated to the maintenance of TMNP in any way. It goes directly to the SANParks national coffers, where decisions are made on how to spend these funds.
Degeneration of the TMNP areas, and an increase in crime on its slopes, has galvanised private citizens to campaign for urgent intervention.
On 3 March 2020, Minister Creecy (Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) held a public meeting and asked the public to voice their concerns regarding Table Mountain. She then assigned volunteers to be public representatives on the various Task Teams. These Task Teams would explore, together with SANParks, the problems plaguing Table Mountain National Park, and would provide suggestions and solutions that could be implemented to address those problems.
To ensure trust and transparency, the Task Teams established Friends of Table Mountain, a public, mountain users’ forum, with the following purpose:
To ensure the appropriate management of Table Mountain National Park by the assigned management authority in the best interests of ecology, recreational use and eco-tourism in keeping with the Park's founding principles of an urban national park.
They hope to ensure a better recreational experience for visitors and Capetonians alike, improved tourism, job creation and a resultant upliftment of disadvantaged communities living around Table Mountain.
The trail running community are fortunate to have representation from volunteers Andy Davies, Armand du Plessis, Heleen Mills, Ellie Courts and Blake Dyson, on the Task Teams.
Mountain users are actively encouraged to report on incidents, concerns or share praise via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the Task Team progress via:
As trail runners, we all have a vested interest in protecting TMNP, and all that it represents for our country.