GUIDELINES FOR CARE OF LAND
FYNBOS AND DUNES
POST- FIRE ADVICE
Endorsed by SANBI, the South African National Biodiversity Institute
A-B-C-D starting with D: DO NOT DISTURB
Post-fire activity amongst burnt vegetation should be kept to an absolute minimum.
The advice below is for landowners and those caring for land, for both small and large properties. It is focussed on dunes but in principle, applies elsewhere.
Our aim is to PROTECT, NOURISH, RENEW, RESTORE our indigenous vegetation and dunes, and finally, REMOVE ALIENS.
DO NOT CLEAR. Full of nutrients for plant renewal, ash contributes to vegetation revival.
DO NOT DISTURB ANY BURNT VEGETATION NOW. Structures under the burnt vegetation and ash are critical to maintaining the integrity of the dunes and soil. Alien structures are also valuable in the short term.
Large white patches of hard crust sand can form from fire burning very hot and can cause water to run-off and not filter through. Ideally contact someone with experience in alien control, to break surface extremely lightly with a fork.
MInImAL DISTURBANCE: Do not walk over, drive on or disturb the natural dune areas. Stick to existing paths. Burnt vegetation will help create wind breaks and frameworks for growth.
Paths or roads can cause water to run-off into the dunes, and erosion. Loss of stabilising vegetation also causes wash-aways. Use in-situ burnt material like burnt logs and brush, or sand-bags, as crude erosion control. Layer along contour lines. Pack brush where gullies have begun to form. If rebuilding actively minimise disturbance wherever possible, and all heavy machinery.
Almost all indigenous dune plant species are adapted to fire, and will either coppice, or their seedlings will germinate after sufficient rain. Germination of the seed bank in the dune will be stimulated by the smoke and heat, and benefit from the significant release of nutritional energy, held in the ash.
When ALIEN seedlings make their appearance, intervention will be necessary. Do not disturb, for now.
ONCE IN A GENERATION. The alien species invasion is partly responsible for the fire burning so hot and so quickly. There will be a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the aliens that pervade the local ecosystem.
In the short term, the priority is stabilising the area, and protecting the indigenous seeds’ source of nutrition. The removal of aliens and their seedlings is the next phase.
Repeated disturbance of burnt areas is to be avoided. However, it is important to do a good clearing of alien seedlings and surviving alien plants within the first 12 months and then follow up to remove all remaining alien seedlings 12 months later. Do not disturb the site more than once a year. Good planning is essential.
THIS ADVICE WILL BE UPDATED WITH TIME, AND AS PRIORITIES CHANGE.
ADVICE ON ALIEN REMOVAL and INDIGENOUS REPLACEMENT:
For original article on this topic please see:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further help.
This advice has been put together in collaboration with local Plettenberg Bay & Knysna botanists and environmentalists, SANBI, Environmental Task Team, SanParks, NMMU. Photograph:Ryan Sandes.