+CapeDoc Posted September 26, 2012 Share Posted September 26, 2012 I am concerned about the future of geogaching in the TMPN reserves on the peninsula. Recently a cache was placed in Cape Town on an island. I had previously seen the island as a potential location, asked the relevant authorities permission, and was denied. This prompted me to place another cache with the theme of "getting permission". As such I contacted the Table Mountain Parks board and asked if I could place a cache in a restricted area, with the provisor that if a cacher wanted to find it, they had to get permission. I thought it a good way of introducing cachers to the "Powers that be" and facilitating permission for future caches. The response has been one of escalation: "speak to my boss". As I have gone about this, I have spoken to officials higher up the chain in the National Parks structure who have been aware of geocaching already and have "been very concerned" about geocaching. To make this clear, they were "very concerned" PRIOR to dealing with me. I feel that geocaching is at risk of alienating the relevant authorities in the Cape. I have been asked by them to make proposals on how to improve our relationship with them. Now I am just a lowly individual, and have no "right" to represent geocaching in any way. I do not want to do anything to anger others in the community. I think that we MUST interface with the parks to protect the future of caching, but I feel we, the geocaching community collectively need to agree on the approach. I have drawn up a letter of reply and request your comments, opinions and suggestions before proceeding any further. Further, if anyone feels they are better suited to negotiations and want to take my place, feel free to come forward (I don't particularly want to do it, but the need is pressing). I would appreciate any support anyone can give. I personally hope that ALL geocachers are ecologically sensitive, cherishing the spots that we have been shown by geocaching. If this process results in caches being removed form sensitive areas (as advised by TMNP) I would hope that we all would rsepect the need to preserve our heritage over our selfish desires. For example,(as told to me by the more senior TMNP managers) there are some species of plant on TM where only 3 or 4 individual plants are left. Clearly there ARE places where we should not be placing caches. Below is the letter. Please make comments and suggestions. Hi I, dr de la Harpe, am part of a community that participate in a sport or hobby called Geocaching. We concerned that as the sport grows and becomes more popular, that the geocaching community has a good, ecologically sound relationship with all National Parks, including Table Mountain National Parks. Geocaching is a “sport” or hobby in which any registered “player” or (cacher) can place a hidden container (a geocache), containing a logbook, somewhere for other cachers to find using a GPS. The intent of the sport is to hide geocaches in interesting areas. These may highlight areas of natural beauty, historical, geological, botanical, social, archeological (etc!) interests. It is a regulated sport, with a controlling web site, rules and a review process. Every cache placed is reviewed by a competent, appointed reviewer who ensures the cache adheres to the rules of geocaching. Geocachers tend to be fairly wealthy, intelligent, geeky people who are environmentally sensitive. The Table mountain National Parks areas are beautiful and mostly free to access and therefore have been used by geocachers wanting to share the beauty with others. Geocaches have been placed within the Parks for 11 years already (since 2001). To give an idea of the environmental impact, I thought you might want to get an idea of some statistics: • At present there are about 410 geocaches in the Peninsula Reserve areas between Signal Hill and Cape Point • The oldest cache in the country is in Silvermine and has been found 140 times in 11 years (geocachers make a pilgrimage to visit it, wanting to visit the site where it all began) • The greatest number of finds on any cache in the area is on a cache near the cableway, which has been found 635 times in a 7-year period. (It is the most found cache in South Africa) • Giving an average is very hard, but caches on top of Table Mountain away from more touristy areas are probably not found more than 10 to 20 times per year. Most caches are hidden very near main paths. Some of them are placed on the more adventurous routes up the mountain and are near unofficial paths. These caches receive less finds than caches on the standard routes. Some proposals to ensure a good relationship or even mutually beneficial relationship between Geocachers and TMNPs : 1. TMNPs supply us with a map of ecologically sensitive or threatened areas. This could be passed on to the geocaching reviewers who could ensure that any caches in the areas be removed and that no new caches are placed in those areas 2. TMNPs could register with the Geocaching web site and browse the geocaching maps of the caches in the Peninsula area and highlight caches of concern. Those caches could be visited by TMNPs, perhaps in combination with a geocacher, and if the cache is thought to be unsound, the cache could be removed. 3. In other areas of the country, National Parks have appointed individuals to interface with geocachers , to overview and review the placement of new geocaches. TMNPs could copy this practice 4. If geocachers can help the TMNPs in any way a TMNP representative could again interface with the geocaching to facilitate beneficial events. Geocaching does cater for events (or “get togethers”). Some of these are called CITO (“Cache in Trash out”). These are get togethers where geocachers remove rubbish from the environment. Geocachers could be requested to : remove trash in high tourist areas, hack alien vegetation, remove graffiti or maintain paths by TMNP. In this way the Geocaching community could give back to the TMNPs as a gesture of good faith for allowing us to continue using the TMNP reserves for geocaching. We hope to convey that Geocachers are environmentally sensitive and are wanting to work with the TMNPs (and all National Parks) in preserving the reserves, whilst enjoying them. Quote Link to comment
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