The burning team securing the block after a successful block burn
The aftermath of the flare up
Black wattle regrowth after block burn
Indigenous grass seed mix
The field now covered in a layer of indigenous grass and fynbos!
In 2015 we started the rehabilitation of a slope that had become infested with black wattle and pine trees. This area was originally a mix of grassy and fynbos components and we planned to return it to this natural state. We first cleared the area of wattle and pine using local contractors.
We then planned a controlled burn to remove the invasive material. The block burn went as planned with our highly experienced burning manager but unfortunately, two weeks after the burn had been contained, there was a flare up from burning roots underground in gale force winds. The burn ended up destroying a much larger area than planned (almost taking out our office) and was a stressful experience. The positive side of this unforeseen flare up was that it had increased the area of rehabilitation.
Burning eliminates saplings and younger established trees, as it did in this case, but the seed bank created by these trees remains healthy in the soil and the burn stimulates the regrowth. After the first rains, the seedlings of black wattle quickly pushed through the soil and soon the field was covered in the new leaves of black wattle seedlings. The field was left for a year to allow as many of the invasive seeds to germinate as possible. A suitable herbicide was then applied as a follow up treatment to the new wave of black wattle growth. Once the herbicide had acted and the field was free of new black wattle growth the field was seeded with an indigenous grass mix. We seeded the area in autumn and added some rye grass which is best sown at this time. We sowed the grass by hand with a light covering of soil and did so just before heavy rains. This grass was to serve as a means of soil stabilization and to act as pioneer species to allow other indigenous fynbos species to establish.
The grass seed quickly germinated, and the field became lush with a layer of indigenous grass. We continued every year with follow to contain the wattle but the grass reduced the amount of follow up significantly. The fynbos component has slowly started to reappear and after just 5 years we are on good track to seeing a recovery of the area to a more natural state.
Come and visit us and support conservation and the restoration of natural vegetation.