Fire on common will benefit fynbos

The aftermath of the fire.

The City and the Friends of the Rondebosch Common (FRC) will work together to recover vegetation destroyed on the common in last week’s fire, says Alex Lansdowne of the Friends.

The fire started at about noon on Thursday January 21, burning 9.3 hectares of endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, the Friends said.

Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said the Salt River fire brigade was dispatched to the vegetation fire just off Park Road at 12.22pm

“Upon arrival, the officer in charge assessed the extent of the fire and requested additional resources. Fire crews from seven different fire stations assisted along with two teams of seasonal firefighters,” he said.

The fire was extinguished at 5pm. The cause is unknown.

A fire broke out last week at Rondebosch Common

Recovery work would include closures of paths in highly sensitive areas, as well as the removal of re-sprouting invasive alien plant species, Mr Lansdowne said. And the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project would be adapted to exploit the opportunity for fynbos rejuvenation.

“With January to March being the hottest, windiest and driest months in Cape Town, fynbos has evolved to burn during this period. While a veld fire may seem destructive, it is integral to the functioning of these ecosystems.”

Many creatures had taken advantage of recent fires, Mr Lansdowne said, with birds being seen scavenging and hunting in the burnt area.

“Fire is important to maintaining the incredible floral diversity found on the common. The areas that burnt had fire intervals of 20 years in the south western corner; and 10 years for most of the central area except from one small patch was last burnt only four years ago.”

Mr Lansdowne said nine species had been recorded in the burnt areas and nowhere else on the common.

“We watch with hope and anticipation of their recovery. The native seed bank will germinate as autumn approaches, the temperature drops and the annual Cape Town rainy season arrives. This spring season we can expect mass floral displays of geophytes and annuals in the landscape,“ he said.

The Friends called on residents to stick the designated paths and to avoid walking through the burnt areas. They also encouraged residents to join the group.

For more information on the restoration project, contact Mr Lansdowne at 066 538 2222 or email friendsofrondeboschcommon@gmail.com