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Robben Island fuel reduction burn showcases local biodiversity and secures key heritage site<div>The fuel reduction burn and training intervention took place on Robben Island between 9 and 14 October 2022, and served as in-field training for Biodiversity Management and Fire and Rescue Services staff. The burn was conducted in cooperation with the Robben Island Museum who provided accommodation for attendees for the duration of the training.</div><div><br></div><div>A fuel reduction burn is conducted to reduce the plant biomass which poses a fire risk in the event of a wildfire. Given Robben Island’s heritage status, an uncontrolled wildfire would devastate the historical buildings and the burn greatly reduces this risk.<br></div><div><br></div><div><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:880px;" /><br></div><div><br></div><div>The original vegetation type on Robben Island is Cape Flats Dune Strandveld, and is now classified as endangered. Transformation of the natural vegetation on the Island has occurred over the past 350 years. </div><div><br></div><div>The large woody plants of the original Strandveld vegetation were completely removed and there was a loss of diversity of the smaller, herbaceous plants. The introduction of livestock and non-indigenous animals such as fallow deer and European rabbits have all contributed to transformation of the vegetation. Alien species such as rooikrans (Acacia cyclops), Manatoka (Myoporum serratum) and Eucalyptus such as the Spider Gum (E. lehmannii) were intentionally introduced, which not only invade built heritage structures, but also increase the risk of fires, especially veld fires. </div><div><br></div><div>In addition to this, the African Penguin population continues to dwindle and there is an urgent need to ensure safety of the breeding habitats on the Island. The aim of the fuel reduction burn is not only to minimise the risk of wildfires to wildlife, people and the built environment, but also to rehabilitate the vegetation to a self-sustaining condition that needs minimal management inputs.</div><div><br></div><div>The growth of rooikrans on the island was targeted for removal in the controlled burns, giving participants valuable training in conducting the burns, and working in conditions that simulate wildfire firefighting. Working in coordination with Robben Island Museum staff, a number of vehicles used in the burn were transported via barge for the duration of the exercise. <br></div><div><br></div><div><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:880px;" /><br></div><div><br></div><div>‘The City is committed to protecting, restoring and managing its natural areas to ensure their long-term sustainability. The opportunity afforded by this fuel reduction burn gives our Biodiversity Management and Fire and Rescue Services teams essential training in dealing with environmental challenges that will serve them well in the field and will ensure a safer and more ecologically healthy environment,’ said Alderman Eddie Andrews, the Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment.</div><div><br><br></div><div><br></div><div><strong>End</strong><br></div><div><br></div><p><br></p>2022-10-15T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#2117327a-2741-4299-aed2-a21c418c927a;L0|#02117327a-2741-4299-aed2-a21c418c927a|biodiversity management;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#f9492c7a-b04f-404a-90fb-7b78d7bcc005;L0|#0f9492c7a-b04f-404a-90fb-7b78d7bcc005|Wildfires;GP0|#543f34cd-a73f-424e-8f54-07e94c2825b4;L0|#0543f34cd-a73f-424e-8f54-07e94c2825b4|Ecological burn;GP0|#1e5df7f1-2c08-437c-9898-dc660c88a689;L0|#01e5df7f1-2c08-437c-9898-dc660c88a689|heritage1Media Office, City of Cape Town0

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