There's More to Our Forests Than Just the Botanical Aspects

Cape Times (South Africa), August 22, 2006 | Go to article overview

There's More to Our Forests Than Just the Botanical Aspects


the central claim David Beuster makes in his letter on alien trees (August 17) is that I and those who think like me are thinking in a narrow rather than holistic way.

I find this ironic because in my view it is the opposite way round - it is many in the environmental movement who are trapped in a tunnel vision that cannot see the whole picture.

A holistic view can see more values in the environment than merely whether a tree is alien or not. It takes the crucial issue of context into account in devising policies, rather than trying to use the same single solution. It welcomes diversity rather than trying to impose uniformity on the world around us.

First, a holistic view takes note that a forest or plantation has economic, cultural, amenity and aesthetic aspects as well as botanical ones.

It provides shade on hot days, shelter on wet or cold windy ones, and the beauty of sunlight shining down between the tall trees of Cecelia Forest that lifts my heart.

It is for this reason that so many people enjoy walking and picnicking in Tokai and Cecelia forests.

Capetonians should have a right to enjoy their tree heritage, which they do at present by hiking, dog walking, picnicking, braaiing, mushroom picking, taking children, horseriding and mountain biking. All this will disappear if the forests are destroyed. And plantations provide employment as well. Second, a holistic view notes that the magnificent fynbos trees mentioned by Beuster only grow in sheltered kloofs. In the open (see for example the Palmiet river valley near Kleinmond or the Redhill area above Simon's Town) there is virtually no shade or shelter. …

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