Cape Nature Conservation authorities have tried to allay the fears of cycad owners following media broadcasts that those without a permit by the end of the month face prosecution.
“Such a campaign was launched and the message contained therein is in fact true, but, and this is the important part that has been overlooked or misunderstood: this campaign only applies to the Eastern Cape,” said Deon Hignett, CNC senior law administrator.
The Eastern Cape department of economic affairs, environment and tourism has decided cycad owners must have permits before March 31 or possession of the plants will be regarded as illegal, a statement said.
However, the Western Cape CNC had made no similar decision. All cycads were classified as “endangered flora” in the Western Cape, and if someone had a cycad on their property, a permit was needed, said Hignett.
If the plant was bought from a registered grower or seller of cycads, the invoice would suffice.
There was no deadline for application, although the CNC urged all owners of cycads without permits to contact them, said Hignett.
Cycads are a small, extremely ancient group of plants with many unique features, and have survived for 300 to 325 million years – long before the dinosaurs.
Although once abundant across the globe, cycads are now greatly reduced in both numbers and distribution and this scarcity, combined with their being something of a “status” plant, makes them valuable and sought after.
The result of this demand is that wild cycads are disappearing at an alarming rate, and they are one of the world’s most threatened plant groups. – Sapa
This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Times on March 29, 2004