In the Gorge with Kloof Conservancy

2018-09-11 06:00
PHOTO: SUPPLIEDControlled burning has a number of benefits for the local ecology, impacting both the flora and fauna in the region.

PHOTO: SUPPLIEDControlled burning has a number of benefits for the local ecology, impacting both the flora and fauna in the region.

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FIRE is a natural part of the grassland ecosystem and helps maintain its health and vigour.

It warms up the soil and reduces the leaf litter and moribund grasses that accumulate each year, allowing sunlight to penetrate. Warming the soil increases microbial activity, which releases nutrients from decaying plant material that new grasses and flowers need to grow.

After a fire, blackened fields quickly revive with new, green grasses and abundant, showy wildflowers with some species relying on fire to regenerate.

The Kloof Conservancy supports the safe and ecologically appropriate use of fire to maintain the grasslands and their plant and animal diversity.

Fire, in our nature reserves and open spaces, is used to stop bush encroachment by controlling trees, woody shrubs and invasive species and keeps grasslands healthy.

After a fire, grasses re-grow rapidly, providing food for grazers but also many other species.

Regularly applied fire can reduce the intensity of an unplanned fire. Without fire, leaf litter builds up over time, providing lots of fuel so, if an unplanned fire should occur, it would be more severe and harder to control.

Fire can also be used to increase wildflower diversity in grasslands; which benefits butterflies, moths and other pollinators; providing a variety of food sources throughout the growing season. Diverse grasslands also provide the different types of vegetation and structure that pollinators need during different times in their life-cycles. Fire is also critical to maintaining the habitat of grassland-dependent birds.

We only recommend grassland burns conducted by experienced personnel.

In eThekwini, we are fortunate to have a highly competent Working on Fire team which carries out the burns in areas we are involved in. They burn in such a manner as to allow small mammals to escape ahead of the fire.

Conditions such as weather, wind and drought factors must be right before a fire is lit and permission has to be obtained from the local fire-department. -Kloof Conservancy

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