By Erna Rossouw, Raadslid, Madibeng, Hartbeespoort/Brits:
The Democratic Alliance in Madibeng is shocked by the rapid deforestation of indigenous trees in the Magaliesberg near Hartbeespoort.
The rate at which people are chopping down trees in the area is alarming. It is imperative that this Green Belt must be protected as it was recently declared an International Biosphere Reserve.
Furthermore, this nature sensitive area needs to be protected not only for obvious environmental reasons, but also to protect the lower laying area of Refentse. Residents in this township are at risk for flooding, as the trees are a natural barrier, when it rains.
The DA has consulted twice with the Green Scorpions in order to stop the illegal trade of fire wood which are sold to tourists in the area. The DA will also follow up allegations, that most of the wood hawkers are illegal immigrants, with the local SAPS and Department of Home Affairs.
The Madibeng council is aware of the deforestation and potential risks involved, but didn’t respond on the DA’s request to fence the area in order to control access to the Green Belt.
The exhaustion of natural resources will no longer be tolerated and the DA will raise the issue on provincial, as well as national level to compile a task team from environmental reservation to visit the area and assess the situation.