Is that veld supposed to be burning?

fire management

Did you know that one of the largest fires in recent history was in 1825 when a fire tore through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, burning 3 million acres of forest? That’s 12140 square kilometers. If Pretoria is roughly 1500km’s away from Cape Town, imagine how intense that fire suppression attempt must have been.

Veldfires caused by lightning, falling rocks (like in the Cape Mountains) or human error can destroy biodiversity and put many lives in danger. It is important for governments to take preventative fire control measures around high-risk veldfire areas; it is equally important for communities around these areas to know when a veldfire needs rapid attention and aggressive fire suppression.

According to Arive Alive, some of the characteristics of a well co-coordinated response are:

  • Fire management teams must be alerted immediately and all persons must move to evacuation points as soon as possible.
  • Immediate fire suppression action as per pre-planned emergency procedures.
  • Constant communication with Fire Fighting Services.
  • Thatch roofs, buildings and the vegetation in surrounding areas should be drenched.
  • Combustible materials to be removed and medical resources placed on standby.
  • High alert on fresh fire fronts being created and careful attention to re-ignition in extinguished areas.
  • However, fire outbreaks are natural occurrences and some ecosystems actually depend on them. Controlled veldfires are started routinely across South Africa every year as a part of fire management solutions or for grazing purposes and environment control. It remains important for Fire Services to pay close attention to these controlled veldfires so that any unforeseen fire spreads can be detected immediately.

    Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known:

  • Controlled veld fires contribute to insect and disease control.
  • Chapter 4(16) of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act states that farm owners may damage, destroy or remove any protected plants in making a firebreak, despite what the National Forests Act or any other law says. But the owner must transplant protected plants if possible or position the firebreak to avoid protected plants.
  • A farmer my not prepare a firebreak if it will cause soil erosion.
  • You may want to read more on taking Namibian veldfire preventions int your own hands.

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