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Media Release: Restricted access to Cape Point due to prescribed burns

Date: 18th March 2014

Two prescribed burns will take place in the Cape of Good Hope Section of Table Mountain National Park in the near future. The areas identified are Da Gama Peak and the section next to the Cape Point Main Gate. This will consolidate last year’s burn of 252 hectares to reach a total of 710 hectares.  

As weather conditions need to be ideal for a prescribed burn to take place, the final decision to burn can only be taken a day before the time.   Consequently, we apologize that only a day’s advance notice will be given for the specific day that the prescribed burning will take place.  Ideal conditions include temperatures less than 25°C, moderate winds below 20km per hour and two to three days after light Autumn rain has fallen.  

We appreciate that prescribed burns are a source of concern to many Cape Town residents, as well as presenting a possible loss of income to the tourism industry.   Prescribed burns, however, greatly reduce incidents of wildfires which are far more destructive and pose a huge risk to life and property on the urban edge of the Park.  The reduction of dry flammable material under more controlled burning conditions will reduce the likelihood of future uncontrolled wildfires. 

All visitors to the Park, commercial and recreational, are thus being asked to exercise caution during the time of these prescribed fires and to follow the signage and direction by SANParks staff.  It may also be necessary to restrict access from time to time to ensure public safety. This will be communicated via various media including signage, printed media and TMNP electronic media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. SANParks management would also like to appeal to hikers wishing to use our trail network over this time to check in and out with our visitor centre at Buffelsfontein (021 780 9204).

Tour guides are kindly requested, as always, to stick to the designated tracks and pathways. Visitors are warned that the air quality will also be affected during this time. Please follow Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) on social media sites Facebook (SANParks – Table Mountain National Park) and Twitter (@tablemountainNP) for updates on when prescribed burning will take place.

Fynbos vegetation is both fire-prone and fire-adapted and therefore will burn. The use of prescribed burning thus forms an integral part of the ecological management of the Park. The TMNP Fire Department together with the SANParks Cape Research Centre has developed a scientific Prescribed Burning Plan for the entire Park – this plan determines and prioritizes areas for prescribed burning, taking into consideration veld age, rare and endangered species, human safety, etc. and addresses biodiversity needs as well as protection of properties.

The reasons for conducting prescribed burns in fynbos vegetation are:

  • To reduce fire hazards by reducing the unnecessary “fuel” accumulated in field as a result of Alien Plant Clearing operations.
  • To rejuvenate the fire-adapted and fire-dependent fynbos vegetation.
  • To form an essential part of control operations aimed at eliminating invasive alien plants.

Other areas besides Cape Point where prescribed burning are planned to take place are:

  • Klein Leeukoppie in Hout Bay
  • Tokai: Tokai Picnic Area and The Cape Research Centre
  • Cecilia Forest: Two  test burns areas each 45x40m
  • Silvermine: Bbetween Ou Wapad and Ou Kaapse Weg 

Residents in the adjoining areas of the Park should be assured that Park management will do their best to minimize any possible inconvenience to adjacent households during the preparatory work and burning operations. Where adjacent properties to the park may be affected by a prescribed burn, Park management will make an effort to inform the affected landowners and residents in good time of the intent to carry out a burn.

When the burn takes place, surrounding residents are advised to please keep their windows shut. Flammable items such as gas canisters should be removed from outside areas and laundry should be taken off washing lines to prevent odour contamination from the smoke. 

For further enquiries, please contact Philip Prins, Fire Manager: TMNP at 021 6897438/9. 

How to tell the difference between a prescribed burn and a wild fire:

It is important to note that a prescribed burn will only ever take place under the conditions as described above. Prescribed burning will never take place on days with strong/gale-force winds, and will not take place over weekends or public holidays. 

Should you see a fire that does not reflect the above description, please contact the TMNP Fire Management Department at 021 689 7438/9. 

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Cape Region Communications
Tel: 021 712 2337

Media Queries:
Philip Prins
TMNP Fire Manager, SANParks
Tel: 021 689 7438/9 

Judiet Barnes
Marketing Manager
Cape Point South Africa 
Tel: 021 525 3707

 

 

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