12 ways to protect the land
STEP 9: Manage fire effectively.

Some ecosystems, such as fynbos and grassland, need periodic fire to rejuvenate the veld and maintain biodiversity. However, human activities often mean that fires are too frequent, or not frequent enough. Fires at the wrong frequency can cause a loss of biodiversity, because many plants aren’t able to set seed before the next fire, and certain animal populations cannot build up their numbers through breeding or migration. On the other hand, fire-adapted plant species may be unable to seed, or their seeds may not germinate, in the absence of fire.

Follow these management steps:
  • Join your local fire protection association (FPA), or form one for assistance in complying with regulations.
  • Prepare firebreaks so as to cause the least disturbance to soil and biodiversity.
  • Where possible, transplant threatened plant species, or site firebreaks to avoid them.
  • Never burn without being fully aware of the ecological consequences. If in any doubt, obtain credible scientific advice beforehand. The local agricultural extension officer would be a good person to start with. Ensure that fire-fighting equipment is in good working order before the start of the fire season.
  • Keep accurate records of fire. Record areas, dates, weather conditions and other information or observations. 
  • Watch an extinguished fire for at least two days after a burn.
  • Don’t allow livestock to graze burnt areas during the first growing season after a fire. This will give bulbs and annuals a chance to flower and set seed and perennial grass species time to build up reserves.
FPA Benefits
Members of FPAs can pool resources and receive help to combat fire on their land. A big advantage for members is that presumption of negligence in civil proceedings resulting from fire damage cannot be used against FPA members who comply with regulations, even if the fire started on their land. Good fire management helps ensure vigorous and healthy veld which in turn ensures clean water in watercourses and dams. Measures to prevent uncontrolled fires help prevent tragic accidents and loss of life and property.

Source: Harrison, J & Young, D; 2010. Farming for the Future: Farming Sustainably with Nature. Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town

More information
Detailed advice about fire management programmes can be obtained from the Working for Water programme (www.dwaf.gov.za/wfw/).

Issue date: 15 February 2013

Related Articles >>

Veld fires – why we need to know more
Grazing and burning to maintain biodiversity
Managing grasslands for biodiversity
Blazing or grazing – the great fire debate

Tags: land, fire, grassland, biodiversity
Be the first to comment on this article
You need to be logged in to comment on articles. If you don't have an account yet, click here to register.

Caxton Magazines encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of users published on farmersweekly.co.za are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Caxton Magazines.
Previous MonthMay 2016Next Month
This week's poll
Will you be attending #Nampo2016?
Yes, I’m looking forward to it.
No, I’m not interested.
I’m skipping it this year. Times are tough.
Last week's poll
Would you pay extra for certified breed-specific beef?
It depends on the difference in price (43.48%)
I already buy certified breed-specific beef (24.22%)
Beef is beef, as far as I’m concerned (32.3%)
It depends on the difference in price (43.48 %) Beef is beef, as far as I’m concerned (32.30 %) I already buy certified breed-specific beef  (24.22 %) It depends on the difference in price (43.48 %) Beef is beef, as far as I’m concerned (32.30 %)
© 2016 Farmer's Weekly Magazine
All Rights Reserved
Terms and conditions