Tough fire season ahead in the Overberg
The current weather forecasts and historic trends show that the Overberg is likely to face a tough fire season. According to Louise Wessels, Manager of the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association at the ABI Partners’ meeting, the region is now preparing for fire season, which officially launched on 6 November.
The ABI meeting was held at Van Brakel Store on Thursday, 26 November. Wessels said at the meeting that fire fighters would focus on controlling the fire in the first hour. However, thereafter the players would assess the continued use of air support. By the third hour, landowners and fire fighters would together take a strategic approach to the fire, to decide which areas could burn and which areas had to be controlled.
The Overberg region has access to helicopters and a spotter plane this fire season. Fire brigades are available, but municipalities will be charging for their time this year.
Working on Fire teams will also assist in fire fighting. However, Wessels said it is still important for landowners to actively man and control fire lines on individual properties – particularly in times that Working on Fire teams may not be available.
Wessels also highlighted the importance for landowners to have firebreak agreements with neighbours. This is important in particular for insurance claims. The Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association provides a template for such agreements.
At the ABI Partners’ meeting, the opportunity to integrate fire and invasive alien management was discussed. The ABI Alien Clearing Project, coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust, is clearing approximately 28,000 hectares per year, employing around 250 project participants.
According to the project’s coordinator, Roger Bailey, ABI has applied to the Department of Environmental Affairs to support a further three years of invasive alien clearing in the region. While the project currently works with nine land user groups, it’s hoped to increase this to 13, clearing around 35,000 hectares a year.
University of Cape Town student Naomi Cresswell highlighted the trust that exists in the ABI Alien Clearing Project. Her study assessed landowners’ perceptions towards conservation, in relation to the ABI Alien Clearing Project. She found that landowners see the value in conserving their land and in participating in invasive alien clearing.
The ABI Partners’ meet four times a year to share information and see how partners can work together to achieve conservation outcomes. The partnership works to secure a healthy productive natural environment in the Overberg.