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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
1 February 2000
TOURISM AMENDMENT BILL; CAPE PENINSULA FIRES
Documents handed out:
Tourism Amendment Bill (B50-99)
Public Submissions on the Bill
Tourism Amendment Bill
The Chairperson, Ms Gwen Mahlangu (ANC) reported to the committee that 9 submissions on the Bill had been received. Not all the members had been given copies of the submissions, and the committee postponed further deliberations until the following Tuesday, 8 February 2000. The chair allocated the various submissions to members and requested a report back from them on the content of the submissions they were allocated at the next meeting.
Cape Peninsula Fire Report
Professor Richard Cowling, from the University of Cape Town, gave a briefing on the ecological aspects of the fires that burnt on the Cape Peninsula during the last week of January. The key message in his presentation was that fires are a vital and healthy element in the ecological makeup of the indigenous plants. However, the presence of alien vegetation greatly increased the amount of fuel in the area, which resulted in fires burning at far higher temperatures and at increased intensity. The fires in alien wood stands were far more difficult and expensive to control, creating much of the damage in the houses around the urban fringe. Further, the alien vegetation restricted the growth of underlying vegetation. This resulted in creating areas after the fire of bare, sterile soil that enhance the threat of mud slides during heavy winter rains.
In response to an enquiry from the Committee, Professor Cowling suggested that the Portfolio Committee could be of assistance by putting pressure on the administrative processes that were holding up transfer of state land to the Cape Peninsula National Park. The National Park was engaged in managing the areas under its control, and it would help if as much land as possible was included under its management. Further, the Committee could be of assistance in identifying incentives for other landowners and users, including private owners and local government, to effectively manage and reduce the alien vegetation on their property.
The Committee indicated that they would like to hold a follow up meeting in a few months time to assess the progress that had been made on some of the issues raised at this meeting.
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