Prescribed burning in Table Mountain National Park

Posted on 2 July 2019

This month there will be prescribed burning across Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) to clear the area of debris from previous wildfires and alien vegetation clearing, as well as rejuvenate the area’s diminished fynbos.

The project is being organised and carried out by the TMNP Fire Management Department, NCC Environmental Services and Working on Fire. TMNP has obtained a burning permit from the City of Cape Town.

TMNP says ‘the use of fire forms an integral part of the ecological management of the park.’

Prescribed burning is a form of land management where fire is intentionally used to clear dry bush in order to help prevent further wildfires from starting and spreading. It can also be used to improve the health of an ecosystem by eliminating alien vegetation and disease.

A scientific Prescribed Burning Plan for the park has been developed by TMNP Fire Management Department and the SANParks Cape Research Centre. This plan identifies and prioritises areas for prescribed burning by considering the age of the veld, the rare and endangered species and alien vegetation, among other factors.

TMNP has said it is vital to maintain the urban edge by burning debris from previous wildfires and clearing alien plants, as these act as fuel for wildfires. What’s more, alien species are a threat to indigenous plants.

Fynbos, on the other hand, is much-needed, in no small part because it is fire-adapted. The heat generated by fire can even help certain types of fynbos seeds to germinate. This unique adaptation to fire is one of the reasons why the Cape Floral Kingdom has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Prescribed burning can only take place under specific weather conditions: the temperature must be below 25°C, wind speeds must be less than 20km/hour and burning will have to take place two to three days after light rain has fallen.

TMNP plans to undertake prescribed burning at:

– Cape Point (including Pheiffer and Jupiter Street in Ocean View)

– Tokai Plantation

– Cecilia (close to Kirstenbosch)

– Newlands

– Schotekloof (Cape Town)

– Twelve Apostle Battery

– Karbonkelberg

– Constantia Nek

– Kloofnekbos

TMNP will inform residents living close to the park of when  burning will take place and have committed to doing their best to minimise the inconvenience for households during the preparation work and burning operations.

They advise that adjacent households keep windows closed, remove flammable items such as gas canisters from outside areas, and move laundry indoors while the burning is underway.

TMNP has confirmed that hiking trails will be unaffected by the burning. Hikers can check the SANParks TMNP Facebook page for regular updates about where and when burning will take place and how trail access might be affected.


Featur image: SANParks Table Mountain National Park.

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