Personal perspectives on commercial versus communal African fire paradigms when using fire to manage rangelands for domestic livestock and wildlife in southern and east African ecosystems

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Africa is often referred to as the Fire Continent (Komarek 1965), and fire is recognised as a natural factor of the environment in the less arid regions with seasonal drought due to the prevalence of abundant ignition sources (lightning and human) (Goldammer and Crutzen 1993), together with an ideal fire climate with distinct wet and dry periods during which plant fuels can grow and accumulate and subsequently burn (West 1965, Komarek 1971). On a global scale, the most extensive areas of tropical savanna occur in Africa and are characterized by a grassy under story that becomes extremely flammable during the dry season. The use of fire in the management of vegetation for domestic livestock and indigenous large mammalian herbivores is widely recognized and deemed necessary by both commercial and communal land users. Research on the effects and use of fire has been conducted throughout the grassland and savanna areas in southern Africa since the early twentieth century, resulting in the development of effective and practical guidelines for prescribed burning for domestic livestock and wildlife management systems (Trollope 2007). However, these guidelines represent the commercial African fire paradigm in terms of burning practices emanating from intensive research programs. Keywords: east Africa, fire, fire paradigms, indigenous people, southern Africa.

Publication Title:

Fire Ecology

Item Type:
Journal Article

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