Sunday, August 06, 2017

The savannas of Africa do not have the best management program and need consultants to bring about good outcomes.

...There is evidence (click here) to suggest that too frequent burning has also caused an increase in the proportion of Increaser II grass species in the rangelands. This is because an analysis of the grass fuel loads recorded in the Park during the period 1989 to 1992 indicates that the majority of the areas (73%) subjected to controlled burns during this period were in a non-moribund condition (<4000 kg/ha) and need not have been burnt. These data would suggest that the rangelands were being burnt too frequently during the burning policies that were implemented since 1980.

One of the solutions to the declining condition of the rangelands in the Kruger National Park is to modify the controlled burning program, particularly reducing the frequency of burning.

This was addressed in 1994 when a laissez faire burning policy was introduced to replace the previous subjectively structured burning program. This comprises a "hands off" policy where all fires ignited by lightning in the Park are permitted to burn freely whereas all anthropogenic fires must be extinguished as far as is possible. The basic philosophy of this laissez faire burning policy is that lightning should be regarded as the only natural ignition source and if left alone will result in the development of a natural fire regime as regards types and intensities of fires and the season and frequency of burning. It is reasoned that human interference in the functioning of one component of a natural ecosystem will eventually lead to interference in the other components with unforeseen consequences. The laissez faire burning policy is not based on any practical examples from elsewhere in the savannas of Africa but rather on the basic and sincere belief that if a natural area is large enough, as the Kruger National Park is assumed to be, the ecosystem will function normally in response to natural variations in the environment, for example seasonal variations in the rainfall.

Another option to modifying the burning program in the Kruger National Park in order to achieve the management objectives of the Park is a structured approach where controlled burning is applied following a decision support system using ecological criteria....