Coastal Shrub and Fynbos - Ash - Burnt Vegetation - Crust - Dunes - Erosion - Fire Adaptation - Generation
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 the land, for both small and large properties. It is focused on dunes but in principle, applies everywere.
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 FOR 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 crusty sand can form from a fire burning very hot, and can cause water to run-off and not filter through the soil. Ideally contact someone with experience in alien control to break the surface slightly with a fork.
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 cause erosion. Loss of stabilising vegetation also causes wash-aways. Use original 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. All heavy machinery should also be used with caution.
Almost all indigenous dune plant species are adapted to fire, and will either hibernate, 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 significant release of nutritional energy, held in the ash.
When ALIEN seedlings make their appearance, an intervention will be necessary. Do not disturb, for now.
ONCE IN A GENERATION
The alien species invasion is partly responsible for the fire burning at the temperature and speed that it did. There will be a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the aliens that pervade the local ecosystem.
Over the short term, the priority is stabilising the area and protecting the indigenous seeds’ source of nutrition. The removal of alien and their seedlings is the next phase.
Repeated disturbance of burnt areas is to be avoided. However it is important to do good clearning 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
Contact the Environmental management unit at Knysna municipality for further advice, including the appropriate species lists and erosion control materials.
This document has been compiled in collaboration with local Plettenberg Bay and Knysna botanists, environmentalists, SANBI, Environmental Task Team, SANParks and NMU.