landowner tips_using controlled burning as tool

Fire is the most efficient way to clear a piece of land of vegetation and fynbos needs fire to regenerate. So why not use fire for clearing invasive alien plants to allow fynbos to grow there? If done correctly this can both benefit the fynbos and save money on labour intensive clearing.

Landowners should create a clear plan catered to the veld’s conditions. To prevent the loss of species, fynbos and renosterveld need to burn approximately every 10-20 years, depending on their type. Fynbos burns naturally from mid-summer to early-autumn; however, to decrease the risk of runaway fires controlled burns should be conducted in autumn. Plan burning in patches to create a mosaic of different veld ages.

Obtain a burn permit from the local fire brigade. Notify neighbours, the Fire Brigade and the Fire Protection Association in advance and again on the morning of the burn. Calculate the Fire Danger Index (FDI) from local readings and if it is too high, the burn should be postponed.

The common woody invasive alien plants come from fire prone areas. They are however slower to ignite than fynbos, but when they do burn they burn hotter and longer. After a fire they regenerate more aggressively and faster than fynbos. If extensive follow-up is not done, the resultant stand of invasive alien plants will be worse than before. Therefore sufficient finances should be secured for this before burning.