The Western Cape continues to be threatened by uncontrolled fires – it is the area most affected by veldfires in South Africa. This is exacerbated by infestations of alien vegetation and increased hot, dry periods as a result of climate change. Fires in mountain catchment areas affect the production of high-quality water for local communities.
Natural fires are actually good for plants, helping them reproduce and ensuring their long-term survival. Fynbos, for example, needs fire to survive. But if fires occur in the wrong season, or too often, many species can become extinct. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of fires and areas burnt, and certain areas are repeatedly burnt well beyond their natural cycles.
To find out more about fire management, download or view the following fact sheet: Landowner’s Guide to Fire Management – Fact Sheet (English)
CAPE Fire Management Data Project
The success of any fire management strategy depends on the underlying research. The CAPE Fire Management Data Project provides vital information, which informs the Western Cape’s priorities and strategies.
The project’s first phase, involving a review of fire-history datasets for all protected areas in the Western Cape, is complete.
This database is being analysed as part of the project’s second and third phase.
CapeNature aims to prevent uncontrolled fires by raising awareness and encouraging the Cape population to help minimise the risk of fire.
During the 2006–2007 fire season, CapeNature and its partners initiated the first fire awareness campaign in the Western Cape. We hold this campaign every year.
Help us prevent veldfires
Most uncontrolled fires start when people are careless. A fire may start small, but on a hot, dry day with some wind, it can destroy vegetation and property, and cause injuries and death.
Use the following tips to prevent fires from starting/spreading:
- Dispose of hot ash and coal used for heating and cooking in a safe place with no flammable plant material or rubbish.
- Do not leave open fires unattended and smother them with sand.
- Make sure that there are no illegal electrical connections in or near your home. Illegal and faulty electrical connections can get hot and start to burn.
- Keep the area around your home clear of material that can burn, such as firewood, kindling and rubbish.
- If you see someone playing carelessly with fire, matches or lighters, tell them to stop.
- Burn rubbish on cooler, wind-still days.
- Do not flick cigarette ends out of your window.
- Report a burning veldfire immediately.
- Know your emergency numbers to report veldfires.
Contact your closest district emergency number immediately if you see a veldfire.
City of Cape Town: 107 (or 021 480 7700 if you are calling from a cellphone)
Overberg: 028 425 1690
West Coast: 022 433 8700
Eden: 044 805 5071
Central Karoo: 023 414 2603
Cape Winelands: 021 887 4446
Resources and websites
- Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: www.dwaf.gov.za
- Firewise SA: www.firewisesa.org.za
- Department of Provincial and Local Government: www.dplg.gov.za
- National Disaster Management Centre: http://www.ndmc.gov.za/
- South African Emergency Services Institute: www.saesi.com
- Visit www.wildflower.org and select “explore plants”.