There are a number of areas where education and awareness programmes can have a huge impact on reducing the number of wildfires we experience in South Africa.
a) School children :
Programmes need to be developed that cater for both the school environment (i.e. curriculum based), and holiday periods when a marked increase in fires started by children is noted. Local and provincial authorities urgently need to address this situation.
b) Parents :
Parents need to be made more aware of their actions and responsibilities regarding their children. Simple matters such as extinguishing braai and camp fires, discarding of cigarette butts, and broken glass are often far from the minds of adults.
c) Landowners and their staff :
A very large percentage of fires start in rural communities because either precautionary measures were not taken, or unsuitable activities were taking place on high fire risk days.
d) Companies :
It is hoped that more companies associated with wildfires will make an effort to increase awareness through their marketing departments.
e) General public :
Many fires are started accidentally through ignorance. General awareness through radio and TV slots needs to be implemented.
f) Homeless people :
In Cape Town, about 30 % of the vegetation fires are caused by homeless people who leave their cooking / heating fires unattended. Once again local and provincial authorities urgently need to address this situation.