BURNING FOR BIODIVERSITY: DECISION SUPPORT FOR BURNING GRASSLANDS IN ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY
Glynn Alard and Ross Goode
eThekwini Municipality, Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, Munyawana Game Reserve

 

Abstract
Increasing urban sprawl and economic development exerts pressure to transform and inevitably reduce remaining tracts of intact indigenous grasslands in the eThekwini Municipality (EM). The Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) has demarcated areas of environmental and biodiversity importance through the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D’MOSS) planning tool and aims to enhance biodiversity and beneficial ecosystem services inter alia. Several grassland types, including the endangered KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld, have been prioritised for protection and management through acquisition of land within D’MOSS, for the benefit of EM and its people. The Working on Fire (WoF) programme has been in operation within EM since April 2009 to manage these grasslands through invasive alien plant (IAP) control and the application of fire. Annual to triennial fire return intervals characterise the fire history of these grassland sites, burned during the dry season (June to August), based on best practice management norms.A paucity of spatially referenced data relating to the efficacy of these ecological burns was identified as a gap in the knowledge management cycle, which includes planning and monitoring. Baseline veld condition assessment (VCA) surveys were conducted during February 2013 on a subset of EM grassland sites, recording parameters including species, basal and canopy cover and aboveground phytomass. Relative proportions between graminoid species guilds, erosion potential and fuel potential indices were calculated and employed as a decision support matrix to compile a prioritised burning schedule for EM grassland sites. Data from triennial repeat surveys will help verify current burning intervals and track grassland health by investigating trends in species diversity and erosion sensitivity.

 

Presentation Topic
BURNING FOR BIODIVERSITY: DECISION SUPPORT FOR BURNING GRASSLANDS IN ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY
Contact Mr Alard:
Email Glynn Alard