Table 1. Salient events affecting the management of the Table Mountain National Park in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and their relevance to fire management


Date Event Relevance to fire management
1949 Formation of the first statutory Fire Protection Committee Coordination of all activities relating to fire protection and wildfire suppression
1968 Policy decision by the Department of Forestry to manage fynbos vegetation by means of prescribed burning (van Wilgen 2009). This policy was adopted by some of the authorities responsible for parts of the Cape Peninsula (van Wilgen 1996)
1976 Occurrence of large wildfires in close proximity to the city of Cape Town. Institution of a total ban on open-air fires
1978 Hey report on management of the Cape Peninsula (Hey 1978) Fire management policies of protection and prescribed burning were supported as “sound and realistic.” Recommendations included better coordination of management, and a limit on any development above 152 m contour
1983 Establishment of the Cape Peninsula Nature Area (later the Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment) Fire management policies remained divergent among different landowners (van Wilgen 1996)
1985 10-year management plan produced (Anon. 1985) Focus on fire protection, establishment of a network of firebreaks, fire lookouts, and access roads
1986 Large fire on front face of Table Mountain Heightened public awareness of fire problem
1993 Table Mountain Fund established by WWF (South Africa) Limited funding for applied research that supports biodiversity conservation
1995 Report of the Kahn Committee Recommendations for the united management of all land within the Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment under a single authority
1998 Establishment of the Table Mountain National Park Responsibility for fire management of natural vegetation falls under a single, unified authority
2000 Large fire covering 7400 ha Establishment of the Ukuvuka campaign in response to large wildfires (Anon. 2004), with a focus on alien plant control projects to reduce fuel loads and fire hazard
Strong support for the establishment of statuary Fire Protection Association
2000 First unified fire management plan for the Table Mountain National Park Flexible approach to fire management, recognizing inevitability of wildfires as well as the need for occasional prescribed burning. Focus on close monitoring of fire patterns over time, with interventions dictated by fire regime thresholds (van Wilgen et al. 2011)
2004 Establishment of a Fire Protection Association Shift in focus from fire protection and suppression to holistic, integrated fire management
2010 Review of fire management policies Recognition of the importance of establishing an adaptive monitoring program and of raising awareness of ecological requirements for fire management within the Fire Protection Association