Have your say on plans for Robben Island burn

Robben Island Museum will conduct controlled burning of vegetation on the island during September.

The public has until Tuesday September 6 to comment on plans to conduct controlled burning of felled vegetation on the eastern and in-land areas of the Robben Island.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM), along with the City’s Biodiversity Department and Fire and Rescue Services, plans to conduct the controlled burning intermittently between September and October.

The controlled burning will be held to prevent the risk of veldfires.

Environmental manager at RIM, Sabelo Madlala said arguably one of the biggest environmental threats to Robben Island is fire risk, especially veldfires of landscapes covered by aged Rooikrans.

“The effects of veldfires on the island would be disastrous, especially considering the site’s remoteness to the mainland. Currently, felled invasive vegetation has been stacked as brush piles and the proposed controlled burns will take place before the warmer summer months when these stockpiles may pose a fire risk to the island.”

The burns will take place under the watch of RIM staff.

Fire breaks have been maintained and widened where necessary, and firefighting equipment and fire hydrants have been tested to make sure that everything is in working order.

The spaces where burning will be conducted have been fenced-off to ensure safety of penguins and other wildlife. RIM will work with Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to ensure safety of penguins during the project preparation and implementation.

Burning is to take place from 6am to 9.30am, before the first visitors arrive on the island, and again from 4pm to 6pm after the last visitors have left the island.

Mr Madlala said smoke emissions may be visible from the island during this time.

“Every attempt will, however, be made for burning to take place when smoke emissions will be blown away from the city’s coastal areas.”

The actual date of the burn is dependent on weather conditions, but all required Open Burning approvals and permits will be obtained from the City’s Fire and Rescue and Air Quality Management Units before the burns being conducted.

Any comments or objections to these proposed burns can be directed, in writing, to the City’s Air Quality Management Unit to lynelle.matthys@capetown.gov.za by Tuesday September 6.

For more information, contact RIM at 021 413 4200 or email sabelom@robben-island.org.za