Good idea to cut fire-hazard pines

Pixie Littleworth, Rondebosch

I would like to recommend the care taken by the contractors who removed the Pinus pinaster pines after the crown fire that swept across Rhodes Memorial and UCT .

Such self-sown pines on the slopes of Table Mountain are a persistent fire hazard. The self-sown Pinus pinasters grew too close and too tall for ladders to reach the scorched crowns. Cutting these trees down was therefore hazardous but well managed.

Indigenous Afro-Montane forests are much cooler than pine forests because they form an interlocking canopy as wind protection. This closed canopy does not allow enough inflowing oxygen to support an ongoing fire. Alien vegetation on the other hand does not form a closed canopy and thus burns readily .

The area from which the Pinus pinaster was removed is clay-renosterveld , a very scarce type because so little is left. It would support silver trees and pink-blossom Podalyria calyptrata which would soon provide some shade.

Olea europea africana will also grow there and seeds are available at Newlands Forest offices. This can form quite a large tree. Where water is available, many of the leafy tree species so abundant in Newlands Forest would grow.