Integrating fire and alien management in ABI-area
The Agulhas Plain has been selected as a pilot site to study how fire- and invasive alien management activities are being integrated. The study will be driven by the FynbosFire Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Both fynbos and alien vegetation are driven by fire. And while fire is essential to fynbos, it also effectively spreads alien vegetation. According to Zane Erasmus, consultant for the GEF FynbosFire Project and driver of the study, it’s therefore key to manage fire at the same time as managing alien vegetation.
However, he says there’s a perception that fire and invasive alien management is not well integrated. Organisations and programmes, such as the government-driven Working for Water and Working on Fire programmes, work independently of each other, with different strategies and budgets.
The study will now aim to better understand the challenges around invasive alien management on the Agulhas Plain, the level and rate of infestation, and some of the eradication programmes already underway here, including the ABI Alien Clearing Project. It will also assess the kinds of structures that are in place to integrate this with fire management.
According to Erasmus, the first phase will be a fact-finding phase, and will include interviews with landowners and with officials involved in invasive alien clearing activities and in the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association. A status report will be developed from this exercise, providing baseline information of the current situation. Following a number of workshops later in the year, a concept model will be developed and disseminated to stakeholders.
The study will be completed by the end of the year, when the GEF FynbosFire Project concludes. The FynbosFire Project has sought to reduce the risk of wildfires by building capacity within Fire Protection Associations and communities, by encouraging greater integrated fire management. The project has introduced state of the art information systems to the Western Cape, to help improve detection and monitoring of fires. Twenty remote weather stations have also been set up, to assist in pro-active fire management, and to better understand the impacts of climate change.