Friday, March 6, 2015

Report Back #36

Pic by Molly Smit
1. Hike the Cederberg #2

It’s no longer a rumour: Hike the C #1 is selling out much faster than expected, and by August/September we’ll have to have a second edition on the shelves. I’m hoping to be able to stretch to a heavier weight of Duraflex this time, to give the maps extra strength, but as usual cost will be the issue.
So, if you have any suggestions for additions or deletions or changes etc etc every scrap of info will be gratefully received ... deadline end of May 2015?

Pic by Molly Smit
2. Fire Fire

You could argue that the Cederberg has its own fires to worry about, so why concern us with the Peninsula fire? Fact is, there are lessons to be learned from both.
I think the most important of these is the classic problem: vast numbers of people, including politicians and decision makers of all parties and at all levels, still haven’t got it: that fynbos will burn because fynbos is designed to burn because the only way that fynbos is renewed is by being burnt
Pic by Molly Smit
These people collectively still describe fynbos fires as ‘disasters’, ‘tragedies’, ‘devastation’, etc etc.
Yes, if people are hurt or killed and properties are destroyed, that is tragic and devastating – but the fynbos itself will renew, exactly as it has been doing for hundreds of thousands of years before humans even learned how to make their own fires. 

The Peninsula fynbos that has just burned was almost all 15 years old – if anything, overdue for a fire. It was ripe to go and an outstanding feature of this 4800 ha burn is this: with hundreds of firefighters on the ground, fire-engines from every station in the Peninsula, four helicopters and two fixed-wing fire-bombers, there was NOWHERE where the fire was stopped in the fynbos itself. It was only stopped on the urban edge or, where houses were damaged or destroyed, inside the urban edge.
Pic by Molly Smit
Jasper Slingsby has created this little overlay of known fires in the Peninsula since 1964 – the gif goes quite fast and ends rather abruptly, but it’s extremely instructive in terms of the inevitable fact of fynbos fires. If it has already started filling up by the time you read this, give it a chance to start its little animation all over again, from the beginning ...
Animated map by Jasper Slingsby
Finally, if you did not see Simon Pooley’s article in the Cape Times [6th March] try to get hold of one – I have asked Simon if we can summarise it in this blog, see here with some further comments of my own. Amongst all the other good sense he has written, Simon summarises the changes in fire management that have taken place since PW Botha emasculated the old Forestry Department back in the 1980s ... if I sense some old grey heads nodding in approval, know that mine is one of them!
                               Remember me?

Keep cool this long dry summer
– Kaartman, March 2015