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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 10(2)

A patch mosaic burning system for conservation areas in southern African savannas

B.H. Brockett, H.C. Biggs and B.W. van Wilgen

International Journal of Wildland Fire 10(2) 169 - 183
Published: 2001


Fire-prone savanna ecosystems in southern African conservation areas are managed by prescribed burning in order to conserve biodiversity. A prescribed burning system designed to maximise the benefits of a diverse fire regime in savanna conservation areas is described. The area burnt per year is a function of the grass fuel load, and the number of fires per year is a function of the percentage area burnt. Fires are point-ignited, under a range of fuel and weather conditions, and allowed to burn out by themselves. The seasonal distribution of planned fires over a year is dependent on the number of fires. Early dry season fires (May–June) tend to be small because fuels have not yet fully cured, while late season fires (August–November) are larger. More fires are ignited in the early dry season, with fewer in the late dry season. The seasonality, area burnt, and fire intensity are spatially and temporally varied across a landscape. This should result in the creation of mosaics, which should vary in extent and existence in time. Envelopes for the accumulated percentage to be burnt per month, over the specified fire season, together with upper and lower buffers to the target area are proposed. The system was formalised after 8 years of development and testing in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa. The spatial heterogeneity of fire patterns increased over the latter years of implementation. This fire management system is recommended for savanna conservation areas of >20 000 ha in size.

Keywords: biodiversity, fire, Kruger National Park, management, mosaic, Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa, spatial heterogeneity.

Full text doi:10.1071/WF01024

© IAWF 2001

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