FIRE IN SOUTH AFRICA

Fires are, and always have been, a part of the South African landscape.
They occur as a natural phenomenon in grasslands, woodlands, fynbos,
and sometimes in indigenous forests.

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FIRE IN SOUTH AFRICA

Fires are, and always have been, a part of the South African landscape. They occur as a natural phenomenon in grasslands, woodlands, fynbos, and sometimes in indigenous forests.

South Africa has two fire seasons according to rainfall patterns, the dry summer months in the Western Cape, and the dry winter months in the rest of the country.

Often wildland fires are started by lightning or, in mountainous regions, by falling rocks. Most, however, are started by accident by people being careless with open flames and indifferent to the consequences of their carelessness.

Fire-adapted ecosystem

About 70% of the ecosystems covering South Africa are fire-adapted. They need to burn in order to maintain their ecological integrity. But because of human activity there is a need to manage fire in a manner that is appropriate for the land-use and land-type, while maintaining natural processes and patterns as far as possible.

Fire as a management tool

A million years ago early humans began to utilise fire and for the last 100 000 years modern humans have used veldfires for hunting and for managing their environment. Today, fire is still employed in the management of veld and forest, to control grazing and habitats, and as a tool in the prevention of uncontrolled fires. However, small fires frequently escalate into disastrous, uncontrolled wildfires.

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An increase in invasive alien plants is a cause for concern as they increase fuel loads. High fuel loads exacerbate the intensity and heat of fires, making more difficult to control and dangerous to suppress.

FIRE AND ALIEN
VEGETATION

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Climate Change is expected to increase temperatures over parts of the interior of South Africa by as much as 3 to 5°C by the end of the century. Longer dry spells may also occur more frequently during all seasons. Increasing temperatures and increased drought frequencies combine to exacerbate the incidence of fire risk.

FIRE AND
CLIMATE CHANGE

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FIRE AND ALIEN VEGETATION

FIRE AND CLIMATE CHANGE
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Fire and landscape management

Fire as a management solution

A million years ago early humans began to utilise fire and for the last 100 000 years modern humans have used veldfires for hunting and for managing their environment. Today, fire is still employed in the management of veld and forest, to control grazing and habitats, and as a tool in the prevention of uncontrolled fires. However, small fires frequently escalate into disastrous, uncontrolled wildfires.

Fire prevention

A million years ago early humans began to utilise fire and for the last 100 000 years modern humans have used veldfires for hunting and for managing their environment. Today, fire is still employed in the management of veld and forest, to control grazing and habitats, and as a tool in the prevention of uncontrolled fires. However, small fires frequently escalate into disastrous, uncontrolled wildfires.

Rehabilitation

A million years ago early humans began to utilise fire and for the last 100 000 years modern humans have used veldfires for hunting and for managing their environment. Today, fire is still employed in the management of veld and forest, to control grazing and habitats, and as a tool in the prevention of uncontrolled fires. However, small fires frequently escalate into disastrous, uncontrolled wildfires.

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Uncontrolled fires pose a risk to life, property, and the environment. The expansion of human settlements into areas bordering fire-adapted conservation lands and fire-vulnerable commercial agriculture, has put people increasingly at risk.

FIRE DANGER

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According to the National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998, the responsibility for the start, or spread of fire rests with the land user. It promotes the formation of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs). It is compulsory for all public landowners to be members of a local FPA.

LEGISLATION

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FIRE DANGER

LEGISLATION
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