Patch-Mosaic Burn in Etosha National Park

Prepared By: Mr. Marthin K Kasaona
Conservation Scientist [Etosha National Park]
Namibia National Focal Point for Fire [AMESD]
Ministry of Environment and Tourism
© 2012
Patch-Mosaic Burn in Etosha National Park
05-15 June 2012



Africa is regarded as the fire continent due to the role fire plays in shaping the savanna landscape. Fire management practices within conservation areas have been hotly debated for many decades. Conservation managers realize the importance and necessity of fire as a management tool in conservation areas. There are numerous practical fire management methods available to managers which necessitates ongoing research on a learning-while doing operating principle.
In Etosha, the present fire management practice of suppressing all fires is ineffective. Most of the fires occur during the hot, dry months which lead to large areas being burnt by homogenous and intensely hot fires which are detrimental to the vegetation of Etosha in the long-term. This called for a re-evaluation of the application of this burning management practice in Etosha.
The Mission statement for Etosha includes “ideals” such as “the maintenance of biodiversity”. On the basis of this objective, a new approach to using fire as a tool for management purposes in Etosha was adopted in this trial period.

This trial was based on the latest approaches adopted by large conservation areas in Africa. The approach is based on producing a flexible and variable fire regime with different intensities across several months which depending on rainfall, could start in April and end in August. The extent of areas burnt would vary widely, allowing for a patch-mosaic burn pattern with different intensities over different areas and under different conditions. It is expected that such a policy will:

  • result in the maintenance of biodiversity
  • provide a practical solution to the occurrence of wildfires in the hot, dry season by breaking up the fuel load
  • allow lightning fires to occur naturally

This trial was intended to implement the patch-mosaic burn approach in Etosha, gauge its effectiveness and adapt implement a burning strategy suitable to the needs of Etosha.

For further information see attached document...

Tuesday, 5 June, 2012
Etosha Ecological Institute (Namibia)


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