Few St Franciscans will deny the sight or smell of smoke almost immediately conjures up fears of ‘oh no not another fire’. With four major fires since 2012 and three of them directly attributable to a fire starting in bush and then spreading to engulf homes, fauna and flora resulting in millions of Rands in damage to say nothing of huge increases in home insurance for those living under thatch.

The call therefore to clear overgrown plots within the village is both necessary and sensible in efforts to at least minimise future fire disasters. That the municipality has threatened to start clearing unkempt plots is thus necessary. Should property owners fail to heed the call they should expect the municipality to step in and clear the bush and send the owner a hefty bill for their negligence to boot.

Driving along Lyme Road North one cannot help but notice there is a lot of activity with bush clearing equipment and teams hard at work. So the council is finally walking the talk and going ahead where plot owners ignore the warnings A Jeffreys Bay contractor has apparently been awarded the task and has started to clear bush with somewhat of a vengeance.

Now those in the know will tell you that we live in an incredible but sensitive region in terms of floral ecology. So among all that foreign vegetation of rooikrans and Port Jackson that exists on these overgrown plots, there is also valuable indigenous plant life, important to this biome. Judging by the work being done these contractors may have been previously employed in clearing the bush in the Sahara Desert for they certainly leave the denuded.

Certainly the plots will recover and growth will return but the amount of damage by indiscriminate clearing is uncertain and will it prevent the return of alien plants. One hopes so for we must protect against another fire disaster.

Just a suggestion!

Could not one of those knowledgeable in local plant life be employed by the council to advise the bush clearing teams or better still, train a local team (an entrepreneurial opportunity) to do the job. There is certainly sufficient work to be undertaken and it is will be a necessary and sustainable service for many years into the future.

So before you are ‘damned if you don’t’. better you clear your plot if you are one of the offending property owners that the council has marked down as their next victim.

Some photos of the clearing thanks to Les Brent who is concerned the Port Jackson will return and again threaten to overrun the indigenous growth.