South Africa is poised to embark on a multi-million rand, internationally funded project to implement far reaching integrated fire management programmes in the fynbos biome .
The multi million rand Fynbos Fire Project was inaugurated at a Project Inception Workshop in Kirstenbosch recently.
The project comes at a time when there has been an increase in the duration and intensity of unwanted wild fire with a number of fires being either major or catastrophic fires that have resulted in the loss of life, livelihoods and natural resources.
They have also come at an enormous cost to the South African economy.
A non-profit company, which is part of the FFA Group, will implement the Fynbos Fire Project on behalf of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
At the inauguration working groups were established to enable stakeholders to actively participate in the project.
The three year Fynbos Fire Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Special Climate Change Fund. It granted US$3.5m ( approx R30m) to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to test specific integrated fire management activities within the Fynbos biome that will help communities to adapt to changing wildfire conditions at a time of climate change.
Partners in the project include the South African National Department of Environmental Affairs, Natural Resource Management, SANBI Climate Change and Bio adaptation , the FFA Group of Companies, the United Nations Development Programme, the South African National Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Directorate Regulation Oversight, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Others include the National Disaster Management Centre, COGT, Provincial Disaster Management: Western and Eastern Cape, the Fire Chiefs Working Group, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Associations SANBI (CAPE Project), SANParks, CapeNature, the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agencym, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
The Project will encourage landowners, wild fire fighting specialists, scientists, the conservation community and the insurance industry to work together to test and implement and specific integrated fire management activities .
Co-funders of the project include the South African National Department of Environmental Affairs, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (Western Cape) , Fire Protection Associations, the FFA Group of Companies and the United Nations Development Programme.
A Project Steering Committee (PSC) will act as the project’s coordination and decision-making body, The PSC plays a critical role in project monitoring and evaluation.
Working groups will be established as needed, to deal with specific issues and to allow relevant stakeholders to participate more closely in project implementation.
The Integrated Fire Management (IFM) approach to the problem provides a framework upon which to build a balanced, implementable, and sustainable approach that will meet the fire-related demands of ecosystems and people.
Integrated Fire Management is a series of actions that include fire awareness and prevention activities, risk mapping, hazard identification, prescribed burning, resource sharing and co-ordination, fire detection, fire suppression and fire damage rehabilitation at local, provincial and national levels.
Using IFM protocols the The Fynbos Fire Project seek to :
ü expand FPAs and rationalising their configuration and governance protocols;
ü equipping, resourcing, staffing, financing and training of FPA members to implement IFM practices;
ü improve the quality of weather data, fire danger forecasting, early fire detection information and fire spread modelling tools;
ü map of annual pre-fire season risks to facilitate the implementation of mitigation measures to reduce environmental, social and economic risks:
ü develop and implement a suite of incentives to encourage a behavioural change in landowners and communities at risk; and
ü improvethe information and decision-support tools required to support the implementation of IFM.