Fire and invasive plant management highlighted at ABI AGM
The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, 24 June – with fire and invasive alien plants featuring strongly on the agenda.
The AGM is ABI’s third as a voluntary association. The meeting was joined by private landowners, many involved in the ABI Alien Clearing Project, government department officials, officials from CapeNature and SANParks, and other NGOs. It was held near Napier, in the Overberg.
According to Louise Wessels, Manager of the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association (GO FPA), there is renewed focus to integrate fire- and invasive alien management. The Agulhas Plain has been selected as a pilot site to study how the two are integrated, as part of the GEF FynbosFire Project.
She said GO FPA had highlighting support for prescribed burns in the area, with Working on Fire teams helping with firebreaks or providing invasive alien clearing (fuel load reduction) support during the winter months. She said in the past there had been a reluctance to conduct prescribed burns, but this year had seen a remarkable increase. The renewed awareness of the importance of prescribed burns as a fire prevention strategy was seen as the reason for this.
Partners at the meeting also agreed that the ABI Alien Clearing Project form part of a study to better understand the benefits of the project to participants. Professor Beatrice Conradie of the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) at the University of Cape Town will lead this study. The CSSR has undertaken a similar study in the Koup region in the Karoo.
During the AGM, partners elected Cornie Swart, President of Agri Wes-Cape, to remain as ABI Chair. The ABI committee is: Tierck Hoekstra, Dr Odette Curtis, Bulelwa Msengi, Rory Allardice, Maarten Groos, Dr William Stafford, Lesley Richardson, Russell Metcalf and Hennis Germishuys.