Controlled burn great for ecology

Controlled burns are an essential component to a healthy ecology of an area, says Park Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon.

He was speaking after a successful burn was conducted by SANParks.

The area burnt was about 23,3 hectares, located 5 km West of the Tsitsikamma tollgate and about 8km East of the Crags Village (Kurland).

This area is made up of mainly Cape Mountain fynbos and hasnt been burnt in the last 19 years. according to Senior Ranger in Tsitsikamma, Eugenia Mkhatshwa.

Coastal fynbos comprises a mix of fynbos and thicket vegetation which needs to burn every 10-20 years in order to prevent the thicket from replacing too much fynbos.

When fynbos gets converted to thicket, it becomes fire-resistant and impossible to burn under all but very extreme weather conditions,” said Mkhatshwa.

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Furthermore, the risks and extent of a wild fire are decreased through a controlled burn.

Although SANParks spends millions in clearing invasive alien plant species through its biodiversity programmes, another purpose of an ecological or controlled burn is to reduce as many invasive alien plant species as possible in the Tsitsikamma mountain catchment area.

Types of invasive alien plants found in the area are Eucalyptus, Acacia and Hakea. In removing the invasive plants the fire essentially also significantly reduces the fuel load.

The Garden Route National Park has approximately 165, 000 hectares of land of which 1/3 is indigenous forests and 2/3 fynbos. At least 7.1% of the mammals protected by the Park are listed as Endangered (EN) and 14% as Vulnerable.

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