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Firewise communities save homes and lives

Tue, 1st March '11


Many South African communities are taking fire prevention into their own hands, thereby preventing their homes from being razed and even saving lives.

Val Charlton of Working on Fire (WoF) will give a presentation on these FireWise Communities at the Wildfire 2011 conference, which will be held in Sun City, South Africa, from May 9-13.

The conference is the hottest event on the international firefighting calendar. The theme this year will be Living with Fire Addressing Global Change through Integrated Fire Management.

South Africa’s FireWise Communities Programme is a fire awareness and prevention project modelled on an American programme of the same name. It has been adapted to the African situation where most of the rural population has no option but to stay in place during a wildland fire, writes Charlton in her abstract. At the other end of the scale, affluent homeowners and developers are increasingly building houses in fire-prone natural landscapes, without considering the natural fire regime.

Charlton will show videos and describe case studies to outline the project’s development from a pilot project in 2005, to a fully-fledged programme. It has proven effective, as it is flexible and adaptable to both poor and affluent communities, among different cultures, and in a variety of ecosystems in
South Africa.

Many settlements have been built in natural environments of high biodiversity, where the vegetation needs periodic wildfires to be rejuvenated.

The interface between these settlements and the natural environment is a problem in South Africa just as much as the rest of the globe, says Charlton.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of Wildfire 2011

For more information please call:
Evelyn John Holtzhausen, on +27-(0) 82 658 6007
E-mail: evelyn@hwb.co.za