Drivers, ecology, and management of fire in fynbos

Tineke Kraaij and Brian W. van Wilgen

in Fynbos

Published in print September 2014 | ISBN: 9780199679584
Published online October 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191791949 | DOI:
Drivers, ecology, and management of fire in fynbos

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Fire is a fundamental driving force in the dynamics of fynbos. This chapter discusses the role of fire in fynbos shrublands but also covers other fire-prone or fire-sensitive vegetation types (renosterveld, strandveld, and forest) in the greater Cape Floristic Region. The biophysical determinants of fire, namely fuels, weather, and ignitions (with emphasis on lightning) are explored in relation to geographic and climatic gradients, and potential long-term changes in fire danger weather indices. Fire histories in protected areas are reviewed and recent fire regimes are characterized in terms of fire frequency, season, intensity, severity, size, cause, and variability in these elements. The considerable variation in fire regimes across the region are depicted spatially, as well as quantified. Abiotic responses to variability in elements of fire regimes are assessed, including that of soil, water, and nutrients. Information on faunal responses to fire regimes is summarized and plant fire survival strategies discussed in more detail, with emphasis on reproduction and persistence traits and trends in post-fire succession. The chapter also touches on the role of fire in determining vegetation boundaries (particularly forest – fynbos and thicket – fynbos boundaries); interactions between fire and herbivory in renosterveld; and the relation between fire and the invasion of fynbos by alien plants. Lastly, an overview is given of the evolution of fire management policies since the early twentieth century, providing context for observed fire regimes and the challenges experienced in contemporary fire management.

Keywords: fire management; fire regimes; fynbos shrublands; lightning; renosterveld; strandveld

Chapter.  18396 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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