Reverting urban exotic pine forests to Macchia and indigenous forest vegetation, using cable-yarders on the slopes of Table Mountain, South Africa
This paper discusses some of the issues faced during the initial phases of a 12-year long project, which will ultimately result in the transformation of 53 ha of urban pine forests to a more diverse natural vegetation cover. Public sentiment, harvesting procedures and future management practices are addressed. The forests are currently managed for recreation and are a heavily utilised public amenity. Efforts have been made at every opportunity, to minimise disturbances to the recreational and biological capacity of the forest area. Public participation was encouraged at all stages, from a local to a national level. Harvesting operations were planned to make the transition from high open pine forest to mixed scrub Macchia and moist indigenous high forest as gradual, though complete, as possible within the given time frame. An aerial cable extraction system with a fixed skyline was applied in extracting the timber to minimise site impacts. Successful marketing of the timber together with the application of industrial harvesting technology meant that the project could be self-financing, which was an important prerequisite. Both public and vegetational response has been encouraging, and the inevitable, unforeseen problems and compromises, that have had to be met since project inception have been dealt with in an open and constructive participatory forum.