A Beautiful Outlook on the Fires in Port Elizabeth Area by Emma Hay whose property was personally affected. INSPIRED!

Written by Emma Hay:seedling after fire


"We live in a fire belt - we live in a fire-dependent fynbos biome. It is an ecological need of the fynbos biome to burn every 5-20 years if it is to survive. We knew this. However, having planted just over 50 trees over the past 3 weeks after months of planning (mainly wild olive, coastal oak, wild plum, camphor tree, stinkwood, cheesewood, kooboo berry, white ironwood, yellow wood, cape ash, cape beech as indigenous canopy) and a bunch of orchard fruiting trees and avo's, we have lost most of them, and most of the windbreak and shade that we had too. We have also lost the compost, manure, mulch and digging hours in rocky soil and we ARE SO GRATEFUL!!!


Planning for fire is a serious business that we neglected and we intend to learn from this. Conventional permie techniques we always use as standard (organic mulch, wood chip, multiple vertical layers/understory planting etc.) are no longer viable here at VS without careful amendment - they are in fact dangerous for us and for our neighbours. Our fires started from embers from the gorge and not from direct flame contact. The dried fynbos was left as mulch and micro-climate and created an inferno - the understory plants created a ladder effect into the larger trees. The small wattle forest we had yet to replace with indigenous trees did not burn because there was no life beneath it to feed the fire. We arrived with minutes to spare before our off-grid cabin went up. We will now observe, adapt and creatively use and respond to this change; using small, slow solutions we will apply self-regulation and accept this very valuable but frightening feedback. We are far luckier than most and my heart goes out to all those folks who have to start again. We will not give up, we will respond and hopefully will have a few years at least before the next burn.


Watch this space...