Journalist Yolandé Stander | Wednesday, 17 April 2019, 16:00
Municipality to host fire seminar
The recovery of vegetation in the Southern Cape – following the devastation of some 100 000 hectares in 2018, as well as the 2017 Knysna fires – is a matter of concern where black wattle and other invasive alien plants are making an unwelcome appearance on the landscape. Photo: Supplied

KNYSNA NEWS – The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) along with the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is planning to establish an annual commemoration event for the 2017 Knysna fires.

“The forum is currently planning to host a seminar on Friday 7 June to review the environmental preparedness of the Southern Cape regarding risks associated with fire and drought,” said the GRDM’s disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption manager Nina Viljoen.

“Much has happened in terms of regional disaster prevention and management since the widespread destruction caused by the 2017 Knysna and Plettenberg Bay fires, not to mention the 2018 devastation of some 100 000 hectares along the Outeniqua Mountains, Still Bay and Vermaaklikheid, claiming still more lives and causing untold damage to the regional economy,” she said.

At a recent workshop hosted at the Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) Saasveld Campus in George, options were discussed to generate sufficient funds to address and reduce risks associated with invasive alien biomass in the Southern Cape landscape.

Taxing landowners suggested
In dealing with the aftermath of the respective fire disasters, the GRDM executive mayor Memory Booysen suggested a tax on landowners to generate funds for invasive alien plant biomass reduction.

“This was merely a discussion point and what was meant by his point-of-view was that we should be open for a debate on how we, as a collective, can become more prepared for future disasters,” said Viljoen.

Booysen pointed out that there was general agreement that much more must be done by both landowners and authorities to reduce risks to safeguard the region from a recurrence of the 2017 and 2018 fires.

The proposed 7 June fire commemoration seminar will look at the overarching research and strategy development that has taken place over the past two years regarding environmental risk reduction in the region, and the physical measures that have been implemented. The seminar will also provide a roadmap of what is planned for the region in the coming months. Further announcements on the seminar will be made in due course and information will be published on the GREF website, on closer to the event