'No evidence suggests next fire season in Cape will be anything out of ordinary'

Fires are natural part of the Cape environment.

Increasing urbanisation and development creeping into the mountain area and unique vegetation is in conflict with the fire cycle that's so important to the natural environment.

On top of this, various factors have resulted in a failure to maintain the desired fire regime, particularly of fires at 12-15 year intervals. As a result, there has been a dangerous build-up of vegetation – fuel loads – in some places.

Postdoctoral researcher at Stellenbosch University Alanna Rebelo talks to Refilwe Moloto about some of the myths surrounding fire season.

The idea that fire is bad and needs to be fought, controlled and repressed is a Northern Hemisphere concept. Hearing things like thousands of hectares of fynbos was destroyed is really just nonsense.

Alanna Rebelo, Postdoctoral researcher - Stellenbosch University's Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology

She explains that in fire-adapted ecosystems, like the Cape's Mediterranean climate, suppressing fires can lead to mega wildfire disasters.

We rather need to understand fires and how we can work with them.

Alanna Rebelo, Postdoctoral researcher - Stellenbosch University's Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology

Rebelo says recent reporting that due to climate change this coming fire season is going to be far worse, is irresponsible and untrue.

There is no evidence to suggest that this next fire season in the Cape will be anything out of the ordinary.

Alanna Rebelo, Postdoctoral researcher - Stellenbosch University's Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology

This still requires extreme caution and vigilance, she adds, as fire season in the Cape is dangerous.

She outlines what needs to be done in the short term to mitigate these risks and how Capetonians cn get involved in projects such as clean-ups of alien vegetation.

Listen to the interview below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'No evidence suggests next fire season in Cape will be anything out of ordinary'


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