Fire-ravaged reserve hopes for rain

Cape Flats Nature Reserve conservationist Robin Adams, with firefighters and UWC staff, helped save the day after a fire which broke out shortly after midnight on New Years Day almost destroyed buildings in the reserve.

The University of the Western Cape’s nature reserve unit is looking out for new vegetation growth in the Cape Flats Nature Reserve, after recent fires there.

A fire broke out just after midnight on New Year’s Day, causing thousands of rands in damage but also bringing unintended benefits.

Cape Flats Nature Reserve head Hestelle Melville said they would be able to see by April or May if any new bulbs had sprouted. But the area would probably need some more rain before any growth could take place.

“Although fires are damaging, it is exactly what the reserve needed to encourage new growth and provide the stimulus for dormant seeds,” she said.

The fire was in a part of the reserve that had not been burned for many years.

The fire flared up again on Monday January 3, spreading from the picnic area in the heart of the reserve to the vegetation lining the Robert Sobukwe main entrance, narrowly missing the environmental education centre.

Two expensive camera traps were destroyed, along with signage and 200m of fencing, which the university would now have to replace.

The reserve’s conservationist, Robin Adams, a trained fire marshal, managed to save the reserve’s buildings.

“By the time I arrived, the fire was about five metres high. In the meantime, security personnel and our committed UWC staffers were going the extra mile doing their thing acting as fire beaters. That’s when I got the fire hydrant piping out and managed to get the fire around the main building under control, with the assistance of my colleagues,” he said.

The reserve, which has about 220 indigenous plant species, is part of the biodiversity and conservation department in UWC’s faculty of natural science and is used by students for research and training.