Working on Fire Programme – eThekwini Municipality

Bheka J Nxele1, Errol Douwes1, Debra Roberts1, Rael Hughes2

1 Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, eThekwini Municipality, 166 KE Masinga Road, Durban, 4001.
2 Working on Fire, New Germany Nature Reserve, Durban

The eThekwini Municipality is responsible for the management of a diverse, and often fragmented natural environment, and also provides service delivery to nearly 4 million citizens. The negative impacts of invasive alien plants (IAPs) on local natural capital (biodiversity and ecosystems), is widely recognised, and as such the Municipality has developed a detailed “IAP Control Strategy and Action Plan”. IAPs not only reduce the ability of the land to support people and livestock, but also interfere with natural ecosystem processes e.g. quantity and quality of water flow from catchments, soil stability, and natural species migration patterns. Rising CO2 levels, associated with climate change, result in increased carbon fertilization of many broadleaf plants, due to their specific photosynthetic mechanisms. This is compounding the negative impacts already observed on indigenous grassland species, which are increasingly threatened by woody-plant encroachment (habitat transformation). Active control of IAPs and woody encroachers is helping to address this concern, and is a critical component of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation workstream of the Municipal Climate Protection Programme. Site selection is guided by the City’s recently developed fine-scale Systematic Conservation Plan. The municipality has appointed Working on Fire (WoF), to implement control of IAPs in areas of critical biodiversity importance, and the programme now provides jobs, as well as training and skills development opportunities, to previously unemployed people. It is an excellent demonstration of how a city can contribute to the national Green Economy objectives. Much needed environmental and fire awareness is now helping communities and schools create safe, healthy and secure environments with reduced fire hazards to people, properties and the natural environment. By sustaining the supply of ecosystem services, alleviating poverty, increasing skills and reducing risk, the WoF programme has become a strategic tool in increasing the adaptive capacity of eThekwini Municipality and integrating, localising and urbanising the global biodiversity and climate change agendas.

Presentation Topic

Working on Fire Programme – eThekwini Municipality


Contact Mr Nxele:

Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, eThekwini Municipality, 166 KE Masinga Road, Durban, 4001.


Email Mr Nxele