As I get the opportunity to walk through the fire affected areas of Vlakkenberg and Silvermine and all the areas in between, I will publish my photos and reflections on the destruction and the recovery. This is the first of those as I got to walk on Vlakkenberg Ridge yesterday.
The walk up from Constantia Nek shows just how close the fire came to descending in to Constantia Nek itself and the potential for crossing over the road. We can be grateful that this did not happen as there are huge stands of gum trees and other alien vegetation in this area.
Looking across from the saddle the burnt area extends as far as the eye can see, over the Constantiaberg and across to Silvermine and Muizenberg Peak. Looking down to the Constantia vineyards, there is stark contrast between the green of agricultural area and the burnt National Park and pine forest. It also highlights how close it came the residential areas.
The area on top of the ridge is a desolate landscape with contract between the white of the underlying sand and blackened protea bushes. Nevertheless, the green restios with blackened tips are pushing through, growing quickly to provide the signs of new life and the messenger of things to come.
Standing out among the new growth are the bright orange paintbrush flowers that are popping up in a few places, one of them attracting a beautiful butterfly, quietly going about it’s work of pollination.
Down in the valley below there is a ridge of Silvertrees that stand out as what seems to have been a barrier to the fire, bearing out what I was told about the fire dying down when it came in to contact with these unique species.
There are many small signs of new life, although the recovery to it’s full former condition with the stunning flowering protea, is clearly going to be a long way off. Monitoring the changes over the next few months and years is going to be an interesting exercise. A link to the full album of pictures is below.
|Vlakkenberg Ridge – Fire aftermath April 2015|