KORSMAN CONSERVANCY

Controlled Ecological Burning Plan


Burning is an essential veld management tool. The ideal burn interval per block is three years, with a minimum of two and a maximum of four.
Ekurhuleni Fire department attends and monitors the burn. Volunteers are welcome.

The burning programme has shown dramatic ecological benefits. The grassland is refreshed from a moribund state. This provides grazing to waterbirds such as Spur-winged Geese, dozens of which died of starvation before the programme started in 2015. Significant species of insects have returned.
Challenges at Korsman are:
  • Urban area
  • Proximity of fence
  • Proximity of reed beds

Burn Units
The blocks are burnt in rotation according to the map.
The 2014 block will be burnt in future according to the 2020 schedule. 

Target date
Late July to late August.

Optimum Weather conditions
Wind speed 5-20km/h, direction depending on burn block.
Relative humidity 20-50%
Temperature: Below 25 deg C

Objectives
1. Remove moribund grass to stimulate spring wild flowers and indigenous grasses
2. Remove non-ecological dead wood for ease of alien vegetation management
3. Second phase of management plan for invasive kikuyu grass
4. Manage bush encroachment by Gomphocarpus fruticosis.
5. Phragmites patches: To remove accumulated dead material. Regrowth will allow better access by waterfowl, and reduce height of regrowth which does not have to outcompete the previous season's.

Notifications
  • Benoni Fire Dept
  • Community:
    1. Korsman Conservancy members and Facebook pages
    2. Lakewest Resident's Association
    3. Interested people and volunteers
    4. Affected residents
  • Bad Boyz security
  • Media: Benoni City Times
  • Ekurhuleni departments and Ward Councillor

Equipment
  • Petrol/diesel lighting mix
  • Rubber fire beaters
  • Backpack sprayer
  • 5l water cans for pre-fire wetting
  • First aid kit
  • Metal rakes
  • Leather gloves
  • Matches / newspaper fire torches

Preparation
Clear along fence with rake down to mineral soil.
Clear breaks along start and end of units. Wetline on the day if necessary.
Cut and rake around trees to drip line. Remove low branches.
Cut reeds near shore and pull away to create a damp mud line.
Cut long grass on banks and near fence where high flames might occur.
Avoid burning under trees with concentrations of leaf litter, especially oak trees.

Smoke management
Request Bad Boyz to direct traffic where necessary.

Proposed Lighting sequence – dependent on actual conditions
All Units:
One fire head only to provide escape route for small mammals. Sequence of units depends on actual weather conditions.
Back burn when necessary, in consultation with Fire Department.

Risks and Mitigations
1. Dead trunks might smoulder for days - No inherent risk, but inform community in advance
2. Hot fire - Brief crew in advance
3. Dead stumps and high organic matter soil from which fire can travel underground - Monitor for several days post fire for smouldering and hot soil nearby. (Post-fire management)
4. Reeds close to burn area - Prepare area well. Cut reeds back and pull away by rake to create damp or wet area on shore. Light fire on the shore to prevent whirlwind developing and lifting embers.

Emergencies
Ambulance ER24 084124



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