The proposed core area of the park is the CPPNE, an area covering some 29000 ha. 

The area includes most of the Peninsula’s remaining natural landscape and incorporates both public land (including the three former nature reserves on the Peninsula – Table Mountain Nature Reserve, Silvermine Nature Reserve and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve) and privately-owned land. The task of incorporating this land is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle as parcels of land are intermittently freed up by the local, provincial and state authorities and the management responsibility placed in the hands of the SANP.

Negotiations with private land-owners tend to be more protracted and may take many forms, from some form of trade off arrangement, to willing seller – willing buyer, to voluntarily contracting land into the park to land swops.

A marine component to the park is currently being investigated. This is a complex task that involves, among other things, defining its legal status and the delineation of marine boundaries for the park. Currently, there are seven existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the Cape Peninsula, only two offering almost total protection to marine life.

However, tough bargaining, intense negotiations and perhaps a few compromises lie ahead before the full conservation dream of the Table Mountain National Park can be realised.

World Heritage Site

The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) has accepted responsibility for preparing the documentation associated with nominating the Cape Peninsula as a World Heritage Site.

Based on discussions with Dr. Jim Thorsell, the IUCN’s senior scientific adviser to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, who visited Cape Town in January 1999, the possibility of broadening the scope of the World Heritage Site nomination beyond the Cape Peninsula was explored.

In terms of Paragraph 17 of UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, States Parties may propose in a single nomination a series of natural properties in different geographical locations, provided that they are related because they belong to the “same biogeographic province or ecosystem type”.

Given the globally unique floristic and faunal characteristics of the Cape Floristic Region as a whole, it was consequently considered appropriate to expand the scope of the World Heritage Site nomination to embrace not only the Cape Peninsula, but the entire Cape Floristic Region, with the Cape Peninsula forming one of a series of natural properties constituting the nomination.

The TMNP, in collaboration with the Western Cape Nature Conservation Department and with funding provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature (South Africa), has completed the preparation of a revised nomination for a series of natural properties, considered by specialists in the field to be of significance to biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Region.

The nomination proposal is to be phased:

  • The first phase will address the Cape Floristic Region and the series of natural properties which together are of outstanding universal value, providing detailed documentation for the Cape Peninsula as one of the key natural properties in the series. This phase is complete, and has been submitted (in June 1999) to UNESCO for evaluation.


  • The second phase is to provide detailed documentation for the remaining natural properties of the nominated series in the Fynbos Biome. This second phase of the nomination will be co-ordinated and submitted by the Provincial Administration of the Western Cape.


Process for the development of an Integrated Environmental Management System for the TMNP

The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is committed to meeting the highest possible standards of environmental management, and local, national and international expectations make the establishment of a world-class Integrated Environmental Management System, or IEMS, a necessity. The development of the IEMS takes place within the context of a multitude of interests and demands. It is therefore essential that the project executant, Common Ground Consulting, establishes and maintains the trust of all stakeholders involved while at the same time successfully integrating a wide range of technical and process considerations.

The overall aims of the project are to:

  • Compile a management plan for the TMNP
  • Establish an IEMS which complies with International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 requirements, and
  • Facilitate the implementation, audit and review of the system.

Common Ground Consulting, in collaboration with all stakeholders, will achieve these aims through an integrated, holistic approach.

The approach

The IEMS will enable the TMNP to address various levels of planning, from the incorporation of public and operational policy in the management plan to the achievement of specific day-to-day targets. The process must therefore provide for all stakeholders’ interests while at the same time enabling efficient operational management. This is possibly the most significant challenge of the project.

The first step will involve the development of an Initial Environmental Review. A common vision and set of principlesa will be established, and public and Management Policy objectives will be defined in a management plan. The Strategic Management Plan will be operationalised through implementation action plans, the monitoring of performance indicators, audits and regular management reviews.

Ongoing development and refinement of the IEMS will occur within the TMNP’s five-year strategic planning and annual management planning cycles. These planning cycles will ensure that the key result areas identified for the park are pursued efficiently and are regularly monitored and reviewed. The five-year cycle will address strategic issues relating to the state of the environment, operational policy and the management plan.

Visitor management

The Cape Peninsula is rapidly increasing in popularity as a tourist destination and the numbers of domestic and foreign tourists are consequently increasing. In addition, the surrounding population are using the mountain in increasing numbers for a variety of purposes. The challenge to the park is to provide a high quality recreational and tourist experience without compromising the ecological integrity of the park.

One of these initiatives is the development of the “use-zone” map. The use zonation consists of an ecological sensitivity map which highlights ecologically sensitive areas which will require particular care and management. This sensitivity map then informs the delineation of use zones which enable the park to manage the natural areas so that the quality and range of the human experience is maintained.

The sensitivity map and the use zone map informs the activities map which details where the more common activities should take place and under what conditions.

The park, almost entirely surrounded by the Cape Town metropole, is however an open access system and most of the park is unfenced (except the Cape of Good Hope area). For this reason the park needs to develop strategic conservation initiatives which facilitate the channelling and management of the visitors to the park, while still maintaining the open access system, and not compromising the natural ecosystems which attract these visitors and users. Park officials have proposed a mechanism for channelling the increasing number of visitors to the park. This is the development of a limited number of interconnected gateways which directs the impact of visitors on to areas where they can be managed effectively. The park officials are in a process of consultation with the people of the metropole to establish the efficacy and desirability of this strategic option.

Control of invasive alien plants:The spread of alien vegetation is one of biggest threats to the park’s diverse flora and fauna. Approximately 40% of the park is threatened by medium to dense alien vegetation infestation .The alien vegetation, most of it imported from Australia earlier this century to stabilise the sandy Cape Flats, has adapted so well to local environment that it has, in many instances, displaced much of the indigenous vegetation.>

The aliens include the Australian Acacias, Wattles, Hakea, Myrtle and Eucalypts, European pines and South American stinkbean.

Plans are in place to clear all seed-bearing aliens from the park by the end of 2003. Several alien vegetation clearing initiatives are presently underway, including economic empowerment programmes.

Click HERE for a map of Alien Invasive plant distribution.

Fire Management:

Fire and nutrient poor soils are the major driving force in the evolution of Fynbos. Many fynbos species have evolved sophisticated adaptations to fire. The park will thus implement a controlled burning program, with compartments burned on a 12-25 year burn rotation. The strategy for control of wildfires includes the 24hr provision of 2 helicopters, fire-fighting crews, fire lookouts and fire-fighting equipment on standby during the fire-fighting season (November to April). Fire-breaks or pre-ignition boundaries may will be maintained along the park-urban area interface. The park will initiate programs to educate and inform visitors to the park and residents living on the edge, or within, the park.


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