Advanced training in response to wildfire mayhem

May 2, 2019

Silva Forest Services from Sedgefield, South Africa, together with a number of international fire and rescue organisations, is hosting a Regional Advanced Integrated Fire Management Training Course in Sabie, Mpumalange, from 16-20 September 2019.

The course will be presented by local fire expert Neels de Ronde. Fire experts from other regions around the world will also be invited to share their experiences.

The training will revolve around optimum use of prescribed fire and regional fire prevention levels.
Neels says that the course has been organised in response to the increase in destructive wildfires being experienced around the world as a consequence of climate change, unchecked vegetation/fuel accumulation and ignorance of fire-ecological requirements – particularly in the Mediterranean zone-biome. This, he says, has resulted in fire hazard levels reaching alarming proportions in countries of Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia particularly in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, shrublands and grasslands. This includes increased fire hazard levels in introduced, exotic, forestry plantations – both invasive and planted.

Underlying causes
This also goes hand in hand with a prevailing lack of appreciation and understanding for the underlying causes that have changed the natural and cultural landscapes, resulting in an increase of extremely severe, uncontrollable wildfire disasters.

Wildfires have occurred at levels never observed there before, particularly in the Mediterranean biome.

For instance in South Africa the increase in wildfires has already spread east of the Mediterranean biome, from the winter and constant rainfall climatic area into the summer rainfall area, from the Tsitsikamma region of the Eastern Cape Province, as far as the Port Elizabeth region and beyond, into the inland region of the Eastern Cape.

These wildfires, says Neels, confirm the ineffectiveness of fuel management and fire prevention measures in many regions.

The following topics will be addressed:
• The assessment of fuel classification sets, tested with the assistance of region-specific custom fuel model sets, fire hazard rating processes and illustrated maps.
• Developing, planning and structuring of the selected regional fire prevention procedures and protective buffer zones construction.
• Optimum use of prescribed burning programs to combat fuel accumulation and wildfire threats, and to develop continuous fire-protective lines and maintain fuel-free strips, with fire-use application areas inside buffer zones constructed.
• Advanced prescribed fire application in natural and man-made, even-aged, commercial forests.
• Development of optimum regional fire prevention plans and prescribed burning schedules.
• Incorporation of wildfire areas, weed control programs and regional plan maintenance and incorporation of fire-resistance forests and scrub-forests within regional buffer zones.

Related article: Garden Route fires: where to now?

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