Call for action over felled milkwoods

Posted on February 26, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized

Angry Kommetjie residents are calling on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to take punitive action after witnessing the felling of protected Milkwood trees, some of them likely to have been over 100 years old.

The Kommetjie Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (KRRA) and Kommetjie Heritage Society (KHS) are taking up the matter after a series of local breaches of permits granted by DAFF in recent years.

This latest clearing operation occurred at 1 Disa Avenue, Kommetjie, on Wednesday 22 February and Thursday 23 February, when a contractor team was seen chain-sawing down milkwood trees on the premises and apparently on a nearby road reserve.

DAFF can issue permits to trim, prune or even remove milkwoods in terms of the National Forests Act 1998.   In this instance a permit was issued on 26 January to Dr Rodger Meyer, of Trovato Estate, Wynberg, apparently a colleague of the property-owner Dr Mario de Witt, currently in Holland.  This gave permission for pruning “for maintenance and easy access to property”.  The license stated: “only side branches may be pruned”.

Distraught local residents took immediate action when they saw the destruction.  They complained to the contractor directly and telephonically to Dr Meyer, but the work continued until a significant group of protesters made it abundantly clear that the action was illegal. By this time several large trees had been felled and many other stems hacked and damaged.  Branches and stems have now been chipped or reduced to logs ready for removal.

The KRRA and KHS are meeting with the relevant DAFF representative in the next few days. A person in contravention of the Act can be fined, imprisoned for up to three years or both.

The Acting Chair of the KRRA said: “despite numerous attempts to inform residents and estate agents of the important status of milkwood trees, including at a community workshop late last year, land owners are still prepared to flout the law, often for the sake of a better view.

“Local resident Rod Gurzynski went to great trouble mapping Kommetjie’s milkwoods that are a defining characteristic of the village, but unilateral action continues.  It’s time that the department enforced the law to send a strong message.”