Knysna’s tourist-based economy is, in turn, an environmentally-based economy. The environmental impact of the Great Knysna Fire on our natural wonders is going to impact our income. Revitalising nature is thus priority but there are many challenges ahead, maybe scarier than most people realise.
THE FIRE’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
In this video, SANParks’ Manager Planning Len Du Plessis discusses the impact the raging fire had on the environment. He says that there was super heat, at times over 2000 degrees, incinerating brick. Soil structure has been destabilised, the fire so intense that it’s become powder in some places. Soil erosion is a major concern. The loss of ground cover means that water will just run off. Landslides will follow because there’s nothing to hold the soil together. Hazardous materials are an environmental challenge. The rivers and estuary can become polluted. Animal movement has changed. Whereas bush pigs would only need to travel several hundred metres to a new area, they now must travel kilometres. We will see more baboons. Some species, such as in Brenton, face possible extinction. Alien vegetation is going to come back with a vengeance, exponential to what it was before. Dead trees are a problem, falling everyday.
“We need a master plan. It’s currently being drawn up. The environment is only part of that plan. It’s a multi-agency approach. It’s going to be okay. We are ready to face these challenges. With a collective effort, the environment will thrive,” finished Du Plessis.