First en­vi­ro di­sas­ter grant cru­ci­al

George Herald - - NEWS - Il­se S­choon­raad

The en­vi­ron­men­tal ma­na­ge­ment work group of Gar­den Rou­te Re­build is wai­ting with ba­ted b­re­ath to he­ar if the R37-mil­li­on they need for e­mer­gen­cy en­vi­ron­men­tal re­ha­bi­li­ta­ti­on in the a­rea will be ap­pro­ved. Ac­cor­ding to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant

Paul Bu­cholz, who works with the Sout­hern Ca­pe Fi­re Pro­tecti­on As­so­ci­a­ti­on (SCFPA), t­his is the first ti­me that an ap­pli­ca­ti­on for en­vi­ron­men­tal e­mer­gen­cy di­sas­ter fun­ding has been ma­de in South A­fri­ca.

T­his ap­pli­ca­ti­on fol­lows the fi­res that swept through the a­rea in Ju­ne. Bu­cholz was spea­king at a sym­po­si­um tit­led "Knys­na Fi­re - the Cau­ses, the Fi­re, the Af­ter­math and the Fu­tu­re" pre­sen­ted by the Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment Pro­gram­me at Nel­son Man­de­la U­ni­ver­si­ty (NMU), Ge­or­ge Cam­pus on 21 Sep­tem­ber. NMU is the on­ly ter­ti­a­ry in­sti­tu­ti­on in the coun­try that of­fers a Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment Pro­gram­me.

Bu­cholz said it is im­pe­ra­ti­ve that the en­vi­ron­men­tal fun­ding is se­cu­red. "It is nee­ded for a­lien e­ra­di­ca­ti­on, fu­el lo­ad re­ducti­on, to fig­ht e­ro­si­on and to re­ha­bi­li­ta­te the burn scar." The ap­pli­ca­ti­on is cur­rent­ly on the desk of the De­pu­ty Di­rec­tor Ge­ne­ral of the Na­ti­o­nal Di­sas­ter Ma­na­ge­ment Cen­t­re, Dr M­map­ha­ka Tau, and a de­ci­si­on is ex­pected soon.

The im­pact of the fi­res we­re fil­med u­sing dro­nes and Bu­cholz sho­wed w­he­re high al­ti­tu­de te­ams ha­ve pla­ced very ex­pen­si­ve an­ti e­ro­si­on fi­b­re sausa­ges and blan­kets un­der very dan­ge­rous con­di­ti­ons on slo­pes that had burnt com­ple­te­ly ba­re.

A­lien con­t­rol cru­ci­al

Ma­na­ger of Plan­ning at San­parks and chair­man of SCFPA, Len du P­les­sis, cal­led the fi­res, the e­va­cu­a­ti­on, the use of so­ci­al me­dia and the sub­se­quent re­build and re­ha­bi­li­ta­ti­on ef­forts "un­pre­ce­den­ted".

Du P­les­sis pro­vi­ded de­tails of the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the fi­re and im­plo­red go­vern­ment to ma­ke the e­mer­gen­cy fun­ding a­vai­la­ble as soon as pos­si­ble. "I can­not stress the im­por­tan­ce of a­lien con­t­rol e­nough. The re­gro­wth will be mas­si­ve. It is our big­ge­st chal­len­ge and po­ses the big­ge­st fi­re risk. It will al­so de­stroy our sen­se of pla­ce." He said the da­ma­ge to the soil and lands­ca­pe had been de­va­sta­ting and that da­ma­ge to in­fra­struc­tu­re cau­sed se­wa­ge to run in­to the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry. Du P­les­sis ex­pres­sed the ho­pe that the ha­bi­tat of the en­dan­ge­red B­ren­ton Blue But­terf­ly, which is found on­ly in t­his a­rea, has not been e­ra­di­ca­ted al­to­get­her.

MTO plan­ning of­fi­cer Wil­lie B­rink said the im­pact of the fi­re on com­mer­ci­al plan­ta­ti­ons and the re­sul­tant loss of logs will be felt up to 2040.

Mal­colm Procter of the De­part­ment of A­gri­cul­tu­re, Fo­re­stry and Fis­her­ies (Daff) in the F­ree S­ta­te re­vea­led that the an­nu­al length of the fi­re se­a­son has in­cre­a­sed by six weeks o­ver the last two de­ca­des. He sho­w­ca­sed a mo­del u­sed in the F­ree S­ta­te w­he­re lar­ge a­re­as are de­mar­ca­ted in­to smal­ler, ma­na­ge­a­ble, fi­re risk zo­nes. He ur­ged town plan­ners and land o­w­ners to act re­spon­si­bly. Re­si­den­ti­al a­re­as should not be de­ve­lo­ped in high risk zo­nes and land­lords should con­t­rol the fu­el lo­ad and e­rect fi­re

I can­not stress the im­por­tan­ce of a­lien con­t­rol e­nough. The re­gro­wth will be mas­si­ve. It is our big­ge­st chal­len­ge and po­ses the big­ge­st fi­re risk.

re­sis­tant struc­tu­res. Ot­her spea­kers in­clu­ded Prof Quin­ton John­son; Knys­na Ma­yor Cl­lr E­le­a­no­re Bouw-S­pies, who de­li­ver­ed her ad­dress via Sky­pe; De­chlan Pil­lay of the Na­ti­o­nal Di­sas­ter Ma­na­ge­ment Cen­t­re and Dirk S­mit of SCFPA.

12th Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment Sym­po­si­um

Ti­aan Pool, NMU pro­gram­me coor­di­na­tor for the Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment and Fo­re­stry Pro­gram­mes, said t­his sym­po­si­um will help set the a­gen­da for the 12th Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment Sym­po­si­um to be hos­ted at the Ge­or­ge Cam­pus from 3 to 5 Oc­to­ber 2018. The Na­ti­o­nal Di­sas­ter Ma­na­ge­ment Cen­t­re is sup­por­ting the sym­po­si­um and in­ter­na­ti­o­nal fi­re ex­perts will be in­vi­ted to at­tend. Ma­nu­fac­tu­rers of fi­re re­la­ted e­quip­ment will al­so be a­ble to sho­w­ca­se their wa­res. In­te­rested exhi­bi­tors and spon­sors can con­tact Pool at ti­aan.pool@man­de­

The sym­po­si­um fe­a­tu­red an ar­ray of spea­kers who spo­ke on the Knys­na fi­re from dif­fe­rent pro­fes­si­o­nal and s­cien­ti­fic per­specti­ves.

Ti­aan Pool, pro­gram­me coor­di­na­tor: Veld­fi­re Ma­na­ge­ment and Fo­re­stry at Nel­son Man­de­la U­ni­ver­si­ty Ge­or­ge Cam­pus, fa­ci­li­ta­ted the sym­po­si­um and di­rected the pro­gram­me.

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