With harvest behind us and the winter rains moving in, it is an ideal time to safely provide fynbos with a critical element of its survival: fire.
Despite making up less than 1% of Africa, the Cape Floral Kingdom makes up over 20% of the continents flora species. There are over 9600 plant species here with 70% of them being found nowhere else in the world.
Last year around this time we orchestrated the first controlled burn on the Lomond Servitude area of the farm. This 18 hectares just above our Sugarbush and Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc vineyards was the first parcel of land from a South African wine farm to ever be entered into a Conservation Servitude with Fauna and Flora International. Because of this, even if Lomond was sold tomorrow this piece of land and the very rare fynbos within it would still be safe from development.
Most fynbos is fire-dependent. This means it requires fire to be able to release its seeds and reproduce. Fires that are too frequent can prevent plants from reaching maturity and therefore germination. Whereas a lack of fire can also deplete seed reserves as the plants eventually succumb to old age.
Therefore, the best reproductive and genetic success for fynbos can be aided by a fire every 10-15 years.
Further, one of the greatest threats to our indigenous fynbos is the invasion of alien plant species. This years burn, just behind the cellar on the eastern portion of the farm, takes place on a boundary of the farm where thousands of alien plants have began to infiltrate.
This burn will act as the first phase of eliminating all aliens in this section and providing the fynbos a fighting chance at reclaiming this section.
Alien plants are tricky to deal with, however. This is where the invaluable efforts of Princess and her business Siyanda Alien Clearing come into play. For the next several seasons this area will need to be patrolled and managed manually. As alien species regain live or begin to sprout, they will be pulled out while the fynbos continues to reclaim the ground.