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University of Johannesburg (2012)

Managing hazards : fire management in the Cape Peninsula

Rowles, Robert

Titre : Managing hazards : fire management in the Cape Peninsula

Auteur : Rowles, Robert

Université de soutenance : University of Johannesburg

Grade : Magister Scientiae 2012

Veld and bush fires are a natural phenomenon that occurs throughout the world. They have occurred naturally for thousands of years, providing both an ecological function and an effective environmental management tool. They have both positive and negative impacts on society and the environment. It is evident that, although fire is a natural phenomenon, the consequences of veldfire can have devastating effects on economies, natural environment and socio-economic environments. Veldfire is a pertinent issue in South Africa. About 1.18 percent of the country’s land surface is burnt each year. The threat of veldfire calls for the effective management thereof. The National Veld and Forest Fire Act 101 of 1998 (The Veld Fire Act) is the Act that constitutes fire management in South Africa. This Veldfire Act aims at veldfire management through the prevention and combating of veld, forest and mountain fires. The Veldfire Act’s principal aim is the regulation of wildfires, but it also plays a role in veldfire management generally. The Veld Fire Act aims to control the spread of veldfires by imposing obligations on landowners to prepare and maintain firebreaks. It applies both to preventing the spread of a veldfire through good management or operational practices and to extinguishing veldfires through procedures set out in the The Veld Fire Act. Uncertainties remain in forecasting the effects that climate change will have on veldfire management within South Africa. Due to the expected shifting rainfall patterns, it is assumed at this stage that in some areas of South Africa fire seasons will increase, and in others they will decrease. There is a need for further research into the effects of climate change and veld fire management, especially within areas of sensitive social and ecological systems. Fire management on the Peninsula is a complex issue, but initiatives such as the new national legislation, the Cape Peninsula National Park’s Fire Management plan, and the City of Cape Town’s Natural Interface Strategy are helping contribute to improved fire management in the Cape Peninsula. Although there is room for improvement for veldfire management in the Cape Peninsula, there has been a lot of progress since early fire management in the 1960s. Veldfire data from the Cape Peninsula between 1999 and 2009 were analyzed to reveal interesting characteristics about the fire records in the area. From available data sources and veldfire records over the ten-year period between 1999 and 2009, the highest number of veldfires on average occurred predominantly between May and June each year.


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