RAVAGED: A fire-damaged Kranshoek house bears testimony to devastation in the southern Cape. Picture: Lisa Ritchie
Knysna - Tourism board chairperson Elmay Bouwer said all the iconic Knysna waterfront establishments and the popular animal sanctuaries were fully operational.

“Knysna is recovering from the devastation of the fires but for local businesses to survive, tourism must play a vital part. We need to get the message out there that we are open for business and the Knysna visitor experience will be as good as ever,” said Bouwer.

Garden Route National Parks manager Paddy Gordon said the indigenous Knysna forest did not burn down and the wild animals, midge species, found in the Gouna River, the Knysna elephant, leopards, baboons and other species had not been affected by fire.

However, SANParks staff have been working with animal-welfare groups to rescue pets and wildlife found in nearby peri-urban areas, said Gordon.

Commending the work of the firefighters from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working on Fire programme, Environmental Affairs Minister Dr Edna Molewa said in the long term the aim would be to restore our “natural landscapes to be more resilient in times of droughts, floods and fires”.

Teams of environmentalists would clear invasive plants from catchments and rivers to ensure flowing water in drought seasons and from veld surrounding urban areas, as invasive plants “increase the risk of fire damage”, said Molewa.

“Although we cannot change the weather, we can adapt to it by using our renewable resources such as water and land wisely,” said Molewa.

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Cape Argus