Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is in the process of obtaining a burning permit to conduct a biodiversity burn in the Southern Section of the Park.

This prescribed burn will take place between March and April under favorable weather conditions, i.e. temperatures under 25°C, moderate winds of less than 20km/hr and 2-3 days after light rain have fallen, the park's spokesperson Merle Collins said. 

"Although we appreciate that such burning is a source of concern to many Cape Town residents, it must be stated that wild fires will occur and an uncontrolled fire or wildfire could pose a huge risk to life and property on the urban edge. The removal of dry flammable material by means of a prescribed burn will reduce the likelihood of future uncontrolled wildfires.

"Fynbos vegetation is both fire-prone and fire-adapted and the use of fire forms an integral part of the ecological management of the park. TMNP Fire Management Department together with the SANParks Cape Research Centre has developed a scientific Prescribed Burning Plan for the entire park – this plan determines and prioritizes areas for prescribed burning, taking into consideration veld age, rare and endangered species, alien clearing etc.  (biodiversity as well as protection of properties)

How to tell the difference between a prescribed burn and a wild fire:

It is important to note that a prescribed burn will only ever take place under the conditions as described above. Prescribed burning will never take place on days with strong/gale-force winds, and will not take place over weekends or public holidays.

Should you see a fire that does not describe the above conditions, please contact the TMNP Fire Management Department at 021 689 7438/9.

The reasons for conducting prescribed burns in fynbos vegetation are:
a)    To reduce fire hazards by reducing the unnecessary “fuel” accumulated in field as a result of Alien Plant Clearing operations
b)    To rejuvenate the fire-adapted and fire-dependent fynbos vegetation
c)    To form an essential part of control operations aimed at eliminating invasive alien plants
Weather-permitting, TMNP is planning to undertake prescribed burning at Roodeberg in the Capri Village area.

"Residents in the adjoining areas of the park should be assured that Park management will do their best to minimize any possible inconvenience to adjacent households during the preparatory work and burning operations. Where adjacent properties to the park may be affected by a prescribed burn, Park management will make an effort to inform such landowners and residents in good time of the intent to carry out a burn.

"When the burn takes place, surrounding residents are advised to please keep their windows shut while burning takes place. Flammable items such as gas canisters should be removed from outside areas and laundry should be taken off washing lines to prevent odour contamination from the smoke (pets, asthma)," Collins said. 

All owners and occupiers of adjacent properties have a right to lodge written queries/objections to the proposed open burning with the City within seven days. 

Queries and objections can be addressed to the City’s Air Quality Control section on Tel: 021 590 5200; via fax to 021 590 5215; or via email to [email protected]