Councillor’s Corner: Winter is associated with many veld fires

Nicholas Lorimer, Ward 88 councillor, answers this week's question.


This week’s question is:

With the winter upon us, more and more veld (and park) fires occur in the area. What can we as residents do to help? Should we help at all or are the fires controlled?

Nicholas Lorimer, Ward 99 councillor, answered:

The National Veld and Forest Fire Act stipulates that the owners of parks, koppies, ridges, farms and forests should create and maintain firebreaks to protect life and property.

This law requires City Parks to make and maintain fire breaks in all the nature reserves, koppies, bird sanctuaries, ridges and swamps it owns in the City of Johannesburg.

The level of fire prevention varies greatly between different properties, depending on the layout of the area in question.

City Parks prefers to do only one controlled burn a year to create or maintain the fire breaks, usually around July, with the dates varying depending on the weather conditions. In some parks, this is done by the local environmental or management committee with the support of City Parks. Controlled burns to create fire breaks are along set paths and are not meant to do any significant ecological damage.

Unfortunately, there are many uncontrolled fires in nature reserves and parks with a significant number being as a result of arson. Recent large fires in both the Melville Koppies and Johannesburg Botanical Gardens were connected to alleged acts of arson.

Residents who see fires that seem to be uncontrolled should immediately report them to Emergency Services so that they can get a vehicle out as soon as possible. If residents believe they can assist in fire prevention they need to approach City Parks for permission before they can take any action.

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