16 AUGUST 2017: Following the recent devastating fires around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in partnership with the local municipalities, and many other organisations have come together to collectively implement an environmental rehabilitation intervention.
Key environmental rehabilitation interventions include felling and scaling down of dead brush and trees, and the stacking of biomass along contour lines to prevent or limit soil erosion and allow faster plant regeneration. Some of the work already underway includes the installation of bio-degradable berms (sausages) to slow water velocity and reduce sediment flow along steep slopes, seeding of slopes above the berms to fast track re-growth of ground cover, as well as installation of bio-degradable blankets to limit sediment flow, reduce water velocity, retain top soil, and boost re-growth potential.
A total of 350 berms, spanning a total of 2100 meters have been installed. The DEA’s Working on Fire (WoF) programme has already provided teams consisting of 45 workers, including a High Altitude Team (HAT), and a process is under way to recruit a further 45 individuals, to assist with the hydro seeding process (scarifying of slopes).
Supervision, operational and technical support is provided by the Southern Cape Fire Prevention Association (FPA), under the auspices of the Project Management Unit (PMU).
Prioritization is in accordance with the immediate threat to lives and infrastructure, and currently at risk are houses and developments down-stream of catchments and ravines above Brenton and Belvidere (significant sediment flow has already occurred in Brenton on Lake). Training of 40 people on erosion control measures has been initiated.
Rapid progress has been made with the labour force who have been up-skilled in rehabilitation methods and interventions, and are already effective.
Partnership organisations include SANParks, CapeNature, The Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA), Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) , Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Knysna Municipality, Bitou Municipality, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).