The purpose of this report is to explain how fire protection was done at the New Forests Company (NFC) plantations, located in Iringa region Tanzania. The report covers the period during which forestry experiential training was done in 2018.
The aim of the report is to give a discussion on all important elements that should be adhered to when implementing fire protection and fire management plans.
Firstly, the report will explain the area description of where the plantation are located and describe the climatic conditions including the average annual rainfall and temperature distribution. In addition to that the maps for Makungu, kisinga and Lukosi plantations showing the firebreaks, compartment number andplantation boundaries.
Secondly, the report will focus boundaries and adjoining neighbours, potential fire risk areas and mitigation measures explaining the internal and external fire risk areas which are identified within the plantation. In addition, to that there will be discussion fire protection where we look on external and internal fire breaks, fire detection focusing on look outs
Thirdly, information on how the controlled fire break burning was done will be discussed which includes
The following terms will be referred to in the report:
Fire belt: “Refers to a planned break in natural fuels and its location where the preparation method can be decided by fire manager. In addition to that fire belt serves as the first line of defence during suppression activities and is used as control line during protective burning” (Teie, 2009).
Internal fire belt: These are belts that contain rather than stopping fire and can be next to roads or indigenous forest (Teie, 2009).
Tracer belt: According Teie (2009), a tracer belt is a narrow belt cleared to facilitate the burning of wider fire belt and can be prepared by hoeing, slashing, burning, ploughing or applying herbicide to the weeds and burn when dried. In addition to that tracer belt are 1 to 3 meters wide depending on the height of the grass.
Fire Danger Index (FDI): According to Teie (2009), this can be defined it as collection of weather observations and analysis of the data to give a prediction of the daily fire potential. The weather elements for calculating the index are relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and rainfall.
Mopping up: Teie (2009), explains that mopping up is the extinguishing of burned materials which can be done by dry method without the use of water or through wet method where water is used.
The information for this report was collected through secondary research by means of company forest Management prescription and plans, articles, books, internet and through conversations with silviculture forester and other personnel who performed different tasks during experiential training. Most of the photographs used in this report were taken by the student while on experiential training at Lukosi plantation, The New Forests Company Tanzania.
2. PLANTATION DESCRIPTION
The New Forests Company in Tanzania has three plantations namely Lukosi, Kisinga and Makungu located in the Iringa region. The Iringa region is situated in the southern part of Tanzania; within the Kilolo district. The plantation area has a relatively low evaporation rate due to the high altitude with a concentrated rainfall during the months of December to May as illustrated in Table 1. The drier months as illustrated in Table 2, are from June to November. Wind direction during the winter months is mainly constant from the south east and therefore during the fire season, more attention is focused on the southern and eastern boundaries of the plantations where the fire risk is higher (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
The tables below show the average annual rainfall and temperature distribution Of Kilolo district where Lukosi Plantation is located.
Table 1: Kilolo district average rainfall (The New Forests Company, 2015).
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Amount in mm 225 212 381 344 167 46 39 76 39 18 145 282 1974
Table 2. Kilolo district average temperature (The New Forests Company, 2015).
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
High 17 13 16 15 19 18 16 18 19 20 20 20 17.6
Low 13 11 11 11 11 11 9 10 10 11 13 14 11.3
3. PLANTATION MAPS
The plantation maps in Figure 1, Figure 2 and Figure 3 show the Lukosi, Makungu and Kisinga plantation. The maps indicate the plantation boundaries, firebreaks which are in numbers, plantation roads network, open areas and compartment in numbers (New Forests Company-Tanzania, 2015).
The plantations have the following villages in the surrounding area: Magome, Kidabaga, Isele, Idete, Kisinga, Ukwega, Kiwalamo, Kimala, Makungu, Kisinga and Ipalamwa, all within the Kilolo District, Iringa Region.
Figure 1: Lukosi Plantation (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
Figure 2: Makungu plantation (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015)
Figure 3: Kisinga Plantation (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015)
4. Boundaries and adjoining neighbours
Lukosi plantation neighbouring villages are: Idete, Kiwalamo, Kidabaga, Magome and Kimala. Kisinga and Makungu plantation neighbouring villages area Isele, Kisinga, Makungu, Ipalamwa and Ukwega (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
5.Fire break prescriptions
According to The New Forests Company Tanzania (2015), before any fire preparation activities take place, the neighbouring local village chairmen are consulted regarding fire break and road verge burning within company land. In addition to that they community will be notified regarding manual slashing of roads passing between community and company land to minimise the fuel load.
Furthermore, on newly acquired land a buffer strip of thirty metres must be left unplanted, to allow for the fire belt and after burning the fire breaks are maintained. Tracer lines on either side of the firebreak were manually hoed each 3″,0m wide by casual workers under supervision of team leaders and foresters (Figures 4 and 5). The vegetation between the tracer lines were manually slashed as shown in Figure 3, and once dried off enough were burnt, to get the fire breaks free and clean from fire fuels. In areas with portions of indigenous forest are left and treated as external fire breaks.
Figure 4: Tracer line in internal fire brake Figure 5: Tracer in external fire break
6. FIRE PROTECTION
Bredenkamp and Upfold, (2012) explain that the size of the region for the purpose of fire strategy depends on the uniqueness of the area and in areas where no fire protection strategy has been identified special care should be taken.
In addition to that the new approach for fire protection requires a system of strategic protection lines placed in landscape regardless of where property boundaries are situated (Bredenkamp & Upfold, 2012)
6.1. External Fire Breaks
All Southern and Eastern facing boundary breaks are priority during preparation and are burnt first due to the constant South Easterly wind that blows during the dry season.
As per New Forests Company Fire protection plan of 2015, fire break preparation starts early May at the New Forests Company where manual slashing of all weeds (Figure 6) within fire brake and preparation of tracer lines is done. Burning of breaks usually starts around mid-July which depends if weather conditions are favourable (Figure 7).
In addition to that, the fire breaks are prepared every year prior to fire season by manual hoeing tracer lines and burning the weeds between tracers all around the plantation boundaries. The fire breaks are clearly indicated by numbers on the plantation maps. (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
All burning of fire breaks are to be completed before the 15th of September, unless extremely moist conditions are experienced as per New Forests Company fire management plan (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
Figure 6: Slashed Firebreak Lukosi plantation
Figure 7: Burning of fire break Lukosi plantation
6.2 Internal fire breaks
According to Teie (2009), internal fire belts are prepared with the aim of containing rather than stopping fires and can be next to roads or indigenous forests. Figure 8 illustrates the internal fire belts along the roads at Lukosi plantation which were prepared and burnt for the main purpose of containing fire.
6.2.1 Indigenous buffer strips
All natural boundaries dividing compartments with dense indigenous woodlands strips are managed as internal fire breaks, where regular weeding of invader species including pine, eucalyptus is done in these areas as they increase the volatility of the fuels (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
6.2.2 Internal roads
All internal plantation roads are manually slashed at the New Forests Company and cool burnt prior to the onset of the fire break burning period for easy access and to slow fires down (Figure 9). In future the company plans to do grading or mechanically mowing, to remove all flammable material from the road surface (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015)
Figure 8: Burning internal roads at Lukosi plantation
Figure 9: Internal fire break after burning
6.3. Natural fire barriers
The Lukosi plantation has the Lukosi River bordering its Eastern side and the Lungo Stream on the Southern side. The South Western and North Western sides are bordered by community land. (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
The Kisinga plantation has a small stream the Machungwa on its Southern side and the Lukosi River for two kilometres on the most Southerly portion of the South Eastern Side. The rest of the area is bordered by very steep community land. (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
The Makungu section has the Funzugwa River bordering its Southern and South Eastern side. The Eastern, Northern and South Western boundaries are on ridges bordering community Land. The North Western Boundary borders the Kisinga Rugaro Forest Reserve. (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
6.4 Controlled burning
Controlled burning in the New Forests Company is done when burning slash for planting preparation purposes, maintenance of conservation areas or burning of grass belts on fire breaks and open areas for fire protection which we are undertaken under the direct supervision of an experienced forester or supervisor (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
The following are important aspects considered before doing controlled burning where the forester ensured adequate fire breaks and tracers are wide enough and neatly made, the weather conditions are favourable for burning operation using Kestrel handheld weather station, lookouts and neighbouring community members are notified of the burning (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
In addition to that, the experienced forester ensured that there are adequately trained fire crew people and equipment to control the fire (Figure 10), where everybody knows their responsibility during burning operation while taking the wind, vegetation and terrain into consideration (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2018).
Not only that but also hazards and risks in area to be burned identified and communicated among crew team, while ensuring health and safety procedures which must be adhered are known to all (Teie, 2009).
Furthermore, the foresters made sure there are plans of what action to take if the wind direction changes or fire gets out of control, arrangement for mopping up team after the burning operation and enough staff to guard the area after burning (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2018).
Figure 10: Controlled burning
7. POTENTIAL FIRE RISK AREAS AND ITS MANAGEMENT
At the New Forests Company there are internal and external high fire risk areas which have been clearly identified. These areas are indicated on maps and proper mitigation measures are in place (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015). The following section will discuss the potential fire risks areas.
7.1 Internal fire risk areas management
The New Forests Company (2015), have explained the internal fire risk areas therefore in fire management plan all internal fire risk areas are identified and proper protection plan is implemented to prevent fire from within the company. The internal risk areas include the following:
7.1.1 Guard positions
This includes all areas where for security reasons guards are strictly managed, as it is custom to keep a permanent fire going, therefore stations are cleaned early in the fire season and no open fires allowed. These areas include Lukosi plantation old nursery, look out for Lukosi, Makungu, kisinga plantation where they use fire to prepare food, therefore the area is kept free off grass and staff must take care not to let uncontrolled run-away fire start.
In addition to that the internal fire risk area which need to be strictly managed for fire protection are Kisinga plantation Store complex and labour compounds which are kept clean of grass.
7.1.2 Foot paths
Foot paths are regularly used by workers and local community are cleaned by high quality manual slashing where they go through compartments which have a high weeds load.
7.1.3 Compartments younger than 4 years
These compartments contain high fuel loads, mainly grasses and unburnt timber from clearing activities prior to planting. Heavy and good quality slashing was done prior to fire season to bring down the fuel load and potential flame heights.
7.1.4 Thinned and pruned compartments
There is an increase of fuel loads after thinning and pruning operations. Therefore, all branches five rows from the compartment boundaries are removed and distributed evenly inside to bring down fuel load and increase accessibility to the compartment in case of fire jump.
7.2 External high risk areas management
Fire risk can be due to internal therefore in fire management plan all internal fire risk areas are identified and proper protection plan is implemented to prevent fire from within the company. The external risk areas include the following according to (New Forests Company, 2015).
7.2.1 Adjacent farmers
According to New Forests Company Tanzania (2015), all the boundaries of the plantation area have subsistence farmers scattered within a few hundred meters of the plantation, therefore special attention when preparing fire breaks between the plantation and the farm lands was taken (Figure 11).
Figure 11. Fire break burning opposite community land
It is customary for local hunters to set fire in grasslands and woodlands to chase small animals into nets or traps. These fires are then left unattended to burn themselves out. The fire lookouts guard must report such practices on time to the fire crews on duty (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
7.2.3 External roads
The grass area between the road and the plantation needs to be burnt out completely as early as possible in the season.
7.2.4 Compartments along the boundary
As a policy in fire management plan, all Compartments along the boundary must be slashed. This is done as form of fuel load management during the fire season since most of the fires originate from the communities, therefore, to cut down the spread and effects of these fires by cutting down the fuel load addition on the external fire breaks (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
8. FIRE DANGER RATING SYSTEM (FDI)
According to Teie (2009), the FDI can be defined as collection of weather observations and analysis of the data to give a prediction of the daily fire potential. The weather elements for calculating the fire danger index are relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and rainfall. The Fire Danger Rating system as shown on Table 3 illustrates the different FDI values and fire alert colours which indicates fire behaviour, flame length and fire control guide.
The blue colour indicates it safe and in event of fire it’s very easy to control, green is moderate safe and easy to control. Yellow FDI colour is dangerous and in the event of fire difficult to control, orange colour very dangerous and very difficult to control fire, red colour extremely dangerous and extremely difficult to control.
You need to explain and write about the table below. Explain in words to the readers what is stated in the table.
Table 3.FDI rating (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2015).
FIRE ALERT STAGES BLUE GREEN YELLOW ORANGE RED
F. D. I 0 – 20 21 – 45 46 – 60 61 – 75 76 – 100
FIRE BEHAVIOUR SAFE MODERATE DANGEROUS. VERY DANGEROUS. EXTREMELY. DANGEROUS.
FLAME LENGTH 0 – 1m 1 – 1″,2m 1″,2 – 1″,8m 1″,8 – 2″,4m 2″,4m+
FIRE CONTROL GUIDE Very easy to control Easy to control Difficult to control Very difficult to control Extremely difficult to control
9. FIRE DETECTION
In Kisinga, Makungu and Lukosi plantations the lookout is mainly used during fire season to detect fire, as they are in areas within plantation which are easily to have view of big area. The lookout guards must report daily on any smokes around the plantation or fires happening and are in constant communication with each other between three plantations through radio calls (New Forests Company Tanzania, 2015).
According to the New Forests Company Tanzania (2015) fire protection plans the location of lookouts for both plantation and how they help with fire detection is as follows:
Lookout on Kisinga has a good view of Kisinga plantation and the Northern side of Lukosi Plantation, not only that but also view of the higher areas on Makungu and F block in Ndengisivili Village.
In addition to that Lookout on Lukosi has good view of Lukosi Planation and the Southern side of Kisinga Plantation. It also has a good view of Ndengisivili compartment N01. It has a poor view of the South Easterly corner of Lukosi. (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2018).
Furthermore, Lookouts are operating 24hrs a day from July until mid December or when its declared end of fire season. The lookout’s guards are in constant communication with each other between three plantations through radio calls. For the remainder of the year, security guards will be left at the lookouts, to guard the radio equipment and to monitor calls (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2015).
10. GUARDING BURNT AREAS
After a controlled burn proper mopping up was done followed by the experienced foresters planning of people among trained fire crew team to guard the burnt area, and when necessary shifts for patrolling the burnt area.
The lookout guards were instructed to watch out for any flare ups during the day and report immediately to the responsible forester in case of smoke or fire signs.
Figure 12. Mopping up after controlled burning
11. FIRE STANDBY ARRANGEMENTS
The fire standby arrangements are drawn up by plantation manager for the whole fire season season, where the schedule is considered consisting of the period from the 1st July to the 15th December and will be extended if rains arrive late. The forester and supervisor will do duty by rotation to cover the area during weekend, and ensuring adequate staff and drivers are on duty by rotation. The forester on duty confirms with the supervisors no later than Friday mornings, what labour number is required for the weekend for duty periods. In addition to that during the week not more than one member of the area staff is to be absent from the area during the day or evening, and if necessary, permission for the forester to take temporary leave of absence is to be obtained from the Plantation Manager. (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2015).
The duty rosters are made available prior to the fire season to enable field staff make arrangements for off weekends during the season. If it is unavoidable that the standby member needs to change his duty weekend, has find a willing replacement and which must be approved by the Plantation Manager depending on expected weather conditions for the upcoming weekend. (New Forests Company Tanzania”,2018).