Author: Madre du Plessis

27 February 2012

City of Cape Town Media Release – 22 February 2012

A prescribed ecological burn at the City of Cape Town’s Tygerberg Nature Reserve is scheduled during March 2012 to ensure the regeneration of the indigenous vegetation in the area.

For safety reasons, the reserve will be closed to the public on 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 March. These dates may change depending on the weather conditions on the day. Approximately 23 hectares will be burned on the north-western slopes of the reserve (Plattekloof side). Staff from Tygerberg Nature Reserve and surrounding reserves, together with Fire and Rescue Services, will assist with the burn.

The reserve staff will ensure that the procedure is conducted efficiently and safely. Fire breaks have been maintained and widened where necessary, and fire-fighting equipment and fire hydrants have been tested to ensure that everything is in working order. Required burning permits have been obtained from the City’s Air Pollution and Fire sections as well as the Sub-Council. The Fire Department has conducted a pre-inspection of the area.

For safety reasons, surrounding residents are advised to keep their windows shut while burning takes place. Flammable items such gas canisters should be removed from outside areas and laundry should be taken off washing-lines to prevent odour contamination from smoke. Sprinklers may be used to dampen gardens as a further precautionary measure.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve conserves one of the largest remaining areas of the critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld. Controlled burns are crucial for the management of renosterveld as fire plays a fundamental role in its life cycle. By removing the dense canopy created by mature vegetation, sunlight is allowed to penetrate at ground level which helps with seed germination.

Too frequent fires can lead to a decline in slow-growing species, whereas fires that are too infrequent lead to the domination of mature plants. Carefully managed burns are therefore necessary to obtain maximum species diversity.

Another advantage of burning old vegetation is that it reduces fuel loads which in turn reduce the risk of future wild fires. Renosterveld should burn somewhere between every five to 10 years.

The single biggest threat to renosterveld is the rapid encroachment of development which has led to its depletion and fragmentation. To conserve what we have left, it is necessary to simulate a natural fire pattern.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve, situated on the hills of Tygerberg, is one of more than 30 nature reserves and natural areas managed by the City of Cape Town. Renosterveld is renowned for its diversity of plant life and the 309 ha reserve boasts 562 recorded plant species and new species are continually being discovered. To date, 23 plant species are threatened with extinction, and three are endemic to the reserve.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve Management would like to thank all residents in the area for their understanding and co-operation.

For further queries please contact Penny Glanville on 021 913 5695 or via Email to