Twakkie (Goliath Highburg) our fire officer has assisted with many controlled burns and wildfires. He has completed the necessary qualifications and has immense experience in the field. His vast knowledge makes him the go-to person when wildfires occur, or when landowners need to burn their veld. He remains calm and collected, and always delivers clear and understandable instructions to those who assist him. Working with him in any fire related scenario is a valuable learning experience. Many landowners work with Twakkie at this time of year to plan controlled burns.
Controlled burns are important because they reduce the amount of fuel that could burn in a wildfire and thereby reduce the risk of infrastructure damage, loss of lives and injury. Another important benefit is the increased health of the environment. Two of the biomes we find here, fynbos and renosterveld (part of the fynbos biome), need to burn naturally. These biomes will lose diversity and degrade without the natural occurrence of fire. Fires allow suppressed species to establish, some fynbos species require fire to disperse and germinate seeds. We therefore partake in strictly controlled burns throughout the conservancy during the fire season which normally runs over the winter months. However, we are particularly careful when burning renosterveld as the optimal burning time for renosterveld is late summer / early autumn (i.e. February/March) to reduce damage to the bulbs. Here is more info on the specific requirements for burning renosterveld.
Twakkie monitors the natural vegetation and consults landowners. All members of the conservancy are required to be members of a Fire Protection Association, either Overberg FPA or Southern Cape FPA. Once the landowner agrees to burn Twakkie, assists the landowner in gaining a permit from the relevant authorities and begins planning the burn. He will take slope aspect, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, and the veld into consideration. The date will be set on the day with the best suited weather conditions. The landowners are always ultimately responsible to give the final go ahead for the burn and for decisions made during the burn but Twakkie is on hand to assist and ignoring his advice usually has serious consequences! Typical equipment on a burn includes, a bakkie sakkie, beaters, drip torchers and spray backpacks. A water source to refill the water carrying equipment must be available and easy to access. Once the burn is completed the veld will be monitored to ensure that the fire does not flare up again and any burning logs or vegetation will be doused with water.
GVB Conservancy Staff