The widespread and detrimental impact of the combination of fire and invasive alien vegetation on the Fynbos biome are a reality that Fynbos managers face today. The future of the Fynbos biome and related ecological services, such as biodiversity and water production, are under severe threat. This situation requires resolute and determined management intervention.
The GEF FynbosFire Project, implemented by Kishugu Non Profit Company (NPC), aims to develop the adaptive capacity of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs). The mid-term review of the Project identified the need to consider ways and means of integrating the management of veld fires and invasive alien vegetation in the Fynbos biome. As a result, Kishugu NPC commissioned a study of the current status of fire and invasive alien vegetation management in two study areas, namely the Agulhas Plain and the Southern Cape.
This study concluded that the management of veld fires and invasive alien vegetation was characterised by a complexity of agencies with different mandates within a range of land ownership types and stakeholders. Stakeholders within a geographical region sometimes work at crosspurposes and often miss opportunities to support each other. There is a lack of good information and communication systems for information-sharing. The underlying ecological principles of fire and invasive alien vegetation management are not followed and formal integration planning is seldom practiced, leading to the ineffective management of fire and invasive alien vegetation, significant inefficiencies and wastage of resources.
A series of workshops were then held with landowners and managers directly involved in the management of fire and invasive alien vegetation in the two study areas. Based on the outcomes of the workshops, a model for a procedural framework for institutional integration of the management of veld fires and invasive alien vegetation was formulated. A key principle underlying the model presented in this report is that neither fire nor invasive alien vegetation can be managed effectively in isolation. Current management practices in the Fynbos biome can and should be modified to align with this principle. 2
The proposals and suggestions made in this report regarding this model reflect the experience and knowledge of the stakeholders in the two study areas. The model proposes a series of steps to be followed by stakeholders collaborating with each other in a particular area. The model is a guideline, it is not prescriptive. It follows a generic planning process, which is flexible and can be adapted to local circumstances.
The process begins with initial planning, drawing a provisional boundary for the area, identifying and engaging with local stakeholders, and establishing an interim team to drive the process, where possible with the support of the local Fire Protection Association. A more permanent Integration Core Team is established as the process advances. The process should be fully representative of all stakeholders, although this may not be feasible at the outset. This phase would be followed by undertaking a situational analysis to identify priority areas for action. Criteria for prioritisation should be practical and include environmental, social, economic and feasibility aspects. Indicators and baselines for monitoring that are relevant, cheap and easy to administer should be identified.
The next step is the preparation of an Integrated Strategic Management Plan (ISMP), setting out goals, priorities, standard operating guidelines and 3-year targets. Once this plan has been adopted by stakeholders, agencies would draw up their own annual plans of operation in conformity with it. Fine-scale planning would then be done for priority areas identified in the plan. Implementation follows this phase. The role of the ISMP is not to dictate in detail what agencies and landowners should be doing on the ground, but to provide a framework for action by the various stakeholders that will promote integrated fire and invasive alien vegetation management, and assist in reaching the common goal.
During this phase, the Integration Core Team would provide ongoing support for implementation, including awareness raising, advice on techniques and skills training, joint fundraising and, where appropriate, managing incoming funds, overseeing the monitoring and evaluation process and managing a stakeholder forum for resolving issues and sharing lessons. Lessons from monitoring and evaluation would flow to the stakeholder forum and into the review of the ISMP. The overall process is iterative, with the ISMP being reviewed after 3 to 5 years, based on the monitoring and evaluation findings.
The success and sustainability of the integration process is dependent on stakeholder commitment, appropriate skills and effort, as well as adequate resources. Dedicated resources are needed if the process is to be successful. Because integration would lead to significant benefits, stakeholders consulted were keen undertake it, and to bring their skills, experience and resources to the process. Funding support for integration activities from the Department of Environmental Affairs would be essential to the success of local efforts. In addition, effective co-ordination and integration between the Working for Water and Working on Fire programmes would result in more effective use of resources, significant savings and greater impact on the ground. It would also foster integration at local level.
View the full document here: fiav-integration-model_march-2016