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Table Mountain and fire

14th February 2009 – 5:06 pm

Now we are at the height of the fire season but so far Table Mountain has escaped almost totally unscathed.  However fires elswhere in the Cape Province have been devastating and although no deaths are reported but there are huge losses to many farmers who have lost all their crops.
A small fire, most likely caused by a lightning strike last Saturday burned a small section of Table Mountain in the vicinity of Cecilia Forest.  However swift action prevented it from spreading and little damage was done.   It must be said that fire is benefical to fynbos (the natural vegetation that grows on Table Mountain) so long as it does not occur too frequently – every 10 to 15 years is not damaging.  Fynbos has adapted to fire with some plant species requiring the heat of fire for seeds to germinate.  Fire helps to maintain the biodiversity of the fynbos which is unique in its number of species.
Few will forget the fire on Table Mountain which took place three years ago.  The whole of the front face of the mountain was burnt and to add to the tragedy a visitor to Cape Town died.   Seeing the mountain now three years on one would hardly notice evidence of fire except perhaps for some of the pines that are still standing although completly scorched.  Almost all the protea bushes have regenerated as well as most other species like the pelargoniums.  What was once desert like in appearance is now the normal lush green of typical mountain fynbos.  So although fire is frightening and can result in terrible losses it is part of nature and its role is important and cannot be ignored.

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