Case Study by Sean Altern – Consultant: Biodiversity Conservation Services
Wildfire planning and preparation is an integral aspect of the inevitable wildfire events that occur every year in South Africa. Runaway wildfires are something that must be expected as it is not a case of if, but rather, when, and the better prepared landowners are is often directly proportional to the impact that fires have on their properties and livelihoods.
Apart from the obvious risk there is pertinent National, Provincial and Local Authority legislation that is applicable to the management of wildfire on private and state land as well as the management of invasive plant species, a contributing factor in the frequency and intensity of fires. The results of negligence and failure to prepare can often unfortunately be as devastating as impact of the fires themselves.
As such NCC designs customised Integrated Wildfire Management (IWFMP) Plans inclusive of alien vegetation control for all landowners. Taking fire management and mitigation into consideration at both the planning stage and operational phase of a development offers a multitude of options for providing proactive measures to significantly lower the fire risk to a property both as a source point for wildfires and as a receiving environment of wildfires. Integrated Wildfire Management Plans are an extension of NCCs Environmental Services vast fire fighting and management portfolio.
DESIGNING A CUSTOMISED SOLUTION
NCC Environmental Services has decades of experience locally and abroad managing some of the largest firefighting crews in the South Africa including those for TMNP, CapeNature, Western Cape Disaster Management, Cape Winelands District and private landowners. NCC understands fire and when planning for it there is no substitute for experience. Combined with high level GIS mapping and botanical capabilities NCC drafts integrated wildfire management plans analysing each property against likely scenarios, risk areas, asset protection zoning, management requirements and response capability. We live in a fire prone environment and NCC assists every estate, development or owner of land to be professionally guided and prepared for these events.
NCC visits each sites, physically traversing, interviewing and analysing the features of the property including elements such as veld type and water supply capabilities to develop a clear understanding of threats, solutions and priority. Detailed user friendly plans are generated including high quality maps providing clear guidance to landowners and managers on how to better prepare and maintain their properties.
NCC provides the guidance as well as the physical capability to implement measures to reduce risk such as clearing and cutting of firebreaks, conducting permitted ecological burns, firefighting equipment supply or even landscaping with indigenous firewise species.
Often Landowners are unaware of their responsibilities or the very real risks and hazards that are present. There are legal requirements and ecological requirements, practical preparedness and response readiness. Lessons learned the hard way are not something anyone wants to experience when it comes to wildfire. Fortunately NCC has for more than 30 years learnt and understood these lessons and are able to use this knowledge and experience for the benefit of our many clients.
ACHIEVING REAL GROWTH
Fire is a consistent and ever increasing feature of our environment and Integrated Wildfire Management Plans help ensure that no one is caught out and ill prepared when it arrives. Whether it is through proper preparation and planning of the Integrated Wildfire Management Plan, physically implementing risk reduction techniques, fire response or even post-fire erosion control NCC fulfils the full spectrum of fire services to landowners achieving real growth for people, planet and business.
Surrounded by Fynbos or surrounded by fuel?