Short Communication

Overview of the fire management policy of the Kruger National Park

H.C. Biggs, A.L.F. Potgieter
Koedoe | Vol 42, No 1 | a227 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v42i1.227 | © 1999 H.C. Biggs, A.L.F. Potgieter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 1999 | Published: 31 July 1999

About the author(s)

H.C. Biggs,, South Africa
A.L.F. Potgieter,, South Africa

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Abstract

New developments in fire management policy in the Kruger National Park are sketched against the background of changing attitudes towards ecosystem management. The experimental burning plots established in the mid-1950s are discussed briefly, as is the almost forty-year era of rotational block- burning. The lightning-driven fire policy initiated in 1992 and currently aimed at by park management is discussed, with comments on its early performance. More recent revision of the management plan stressed maximisation of appropriate research benefits from the experimental burning plots, con- doned the lightning approach for the present, but stressed the absolute necessity of the park not finding itself in the 1992 position again, where a major change in policy has to be made with no comparative evidence from other systems. To this end, a major landscape-scale fire management trial has been planned for implementation starting in April 2000. It is sheduled to run over a twenty-year period, and will be placed at four localities representing different major landscapes in the park. It will compare the effects of three different fire systems (lightning, patch mosaic, and range condition burning systems) on biodiversity elements crucial to the park's mission. The rationale for, layout of, and criteria for deciding on the outcome of the trial are discussed, as well as the trade-offs that were made to enable the trial to be of such a large scale and still fit into overall park planning. The impact of the trial on the park's monitoring programme is discussed.

Keywords

fire, management, landscape-scale trial, policy, lightning, patch mosaic, range condition.

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