Carefully managed burns of old vegetation are necessary to maintain species diversity and to reduce fuel loads, which in turn reduces the risk of wildfires. The City of Cape Town is planning a number of burns over the coming months.
‘We ensure that the surrounding residents are provided with further details of each planned ecological burn once the dates are confirmed so residents can be prepared. The actual dates depend on ideal weather conditions and will be confirmed closer to the time,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.
The City plans to conduct controlled ecological burns at nature reserves and conservation areas over the next two months as follows:
Area Size of area Scheduled time Nirvana Conservation Area 4,6 ha March to April 2021 Blaauwberg Nature Reserve 50,8 ha March 2021 Meadowridge Common Conservation Area 1,5 ha March 2021 Table Bay Nature Reserve, Parklands Fynbos Corridor 5,3 ha March 2021 Table Bay Nature Reserve, Milnerton Racecourse 10,5 ha March to April 2021 Zonnestraal Conservation Area 1,5 ha March to April 2021 Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area 20,4 ha March to April 2021 Helderberg Nature Reserve 20 ha March to April 2021 Haasendal Conservation Area 4 ha March to April 2021 Botterblom Nature Reserve 2,9 ha March 2021
‘Our Environmental Management Department will work with the City’s Fire and Rescue Service and partners to ensure that the procedure for all of these planned burns is conducted efficiently and safely on the day,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.
The Fire and Rescue Service will also conduct the required pre-inspection of the areas; fire-breaks will be maintained and widened where necessary, and firefighting equipment and fire hydrants will be tested to ensure seamless operations on the day.
For safety reasons, these reserves, or portions thereof, will be closed to the public on the day of burning and for a few days after until the area is deemed safe.
‘We can assure the surrounding community that all required burning permits will be obtained from the City’s Air Pollution and Fire and Rescue Service Departments,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.
Prescribed ecological burns are crucial for the management of our conservation areas as fire plays a fundamental role in these ecosystems. Where Fynbos and Renosterveld vegetation becomes too old, the vegetation can become thick, shading out many species, and shrubs start to die. The rejuvenating fire removes all the dead material and stimulates seeds to germinate, and annuals and bulbs to flower.