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George Campus

Higher Certificate in Veldfire Management

Nelson Mandela University has added another niche programme – the Higher Certificate in Veldfire Management - to its array of qualifications offered within the School of Natural Resource Management (SNRM). The SNRM, one of four Schools in the Science Faculty of the Nelson Mandela University, currently presents a cluster of five related academic programmes, namely Forestry, Wood Technology, Agricultural Management, Nature Conservation and Game Ranch Management.

“Modules on fire management are already embedded in three existing programmes, and the addition of a formal Higher Certificate in Veldfire Management (HCVM) from the beginning of 2014 will complement the existing programme and qualification mix” says Prof Jos Louw, Director of the School of Natural Resource Management at George Campus.    “Furthermore, a learning programme of this nature will be unique in the southern African context and is set to strengthen the already well-established niche of the SNRM in the sub-continent” he continued.

Full-time and part-time options

Good news for potential students in this field is that this qualification is now offered on a full-time basis(one year) or on a part-time basis (two years). The part-time offering will be suitable for working individuals, with two two-week time slots per semester (block release format) incorporated into the programme. 

The full-time option is expected to attract younger prospects with an interest in the field, or those who would like to use the programme as “stepping stone” to formal diploma and subsequent degree studies at Nelson Mandela University. Some credits will be earned towards the diploma programmes offered within Nelson Mandela University’s School of Natural Resource Management.

The limited attendance (part-time) programme will be completed over a two-year period. It is aimed at persons who already have a qualification; or persons who have practical experience in the arena of
veldfire management, but with no formal qualification in this field. 

Programme focus and career opportunities

The curriculum and modules of the HCVM are designed to focus on technical as well as strategic and tactical aspects of veldfire management which are critical success factors to suppress and prevent veldfires and to protect assets against veldfires.  It complements the holistic approach to the management of natural resources and will provide students with relevant knowledge and theoretical and practical skills, experience and expertise demanded of the natural resource practitioner, specifically in the discipline of veldfire management.  

The programme, amongst others, covers the applicable legislation relevant to veldfire management. The course will also empower students to use technology, engineering concepts and infrastructure effectively for veldfire management.

Students who have completed the programme will be competent to work as veldfire managers in government, municipalities, non-governmental organizations such as fire protection associations, as well as the organized forestry and conservation sector.

Admission requirements apply for prospective learners who are in possession of a National Senior Certificate, a Senior Certificate or
National Certificate Vocational (NCV). Access to higher education will also be promoted through the option of the admissions test, as asupplement to the normal Admissions Points Score. Furthermore, students without a NSC certificate providing for degree or diploma entry, can after successful completion of the Higher Certificate, progress to Diploma level programmes in related natural resource management disciplines.

Recognition of Prior Learning can also be considered for access to the programme, according to the relevant Nelson Mandela University policy.

Further enquiries

For more information, contact Tiaan Pool, Forestry Lecturer, Nelson Mandela University George (044 801 5111,

More on admission requirements:

Candidates with a National Senior Certificate

Admissions Point Score of 28.

Minimum NSC requirements for Higher Certificate entry must be met.

English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa (Home Language or First Additional Language) on at least NSC Level 3 (40-49%).

An NSC achievement rating of at least level 2 (30% - 39%) for Mathematics or a level 3 (40% - 49%) for Mathematical Literacy.

Applicants with an Admissions Point Score of between 22 and 27 may be referred to write the Access Assessment Test before a decision is made on whether or not to admit the applicant to the programme.

Candidates with a Senior Certificate

A School Performance Score (SPS) of 24.

A Senior Certificate with a minimum of two higher grade subjects.

Candidates in possession of the National Certificate Vocational (NCV)

Minimum National Certificate (Vocational) Level 4 statutory requirements for Higher Certificate entry must be met.

English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa First Additional Language) on at least Level 3 (40-49%).

NC(V) achievement rating of at least Level 4 (50%-59%) for Mathematics or Level 5 (60%-69%) for Mathematical Literacy.

Perform satisfactorily on the Access Assessment Battery.

Prof Jos Louw of Nelson Mandela University George Campus taking a soil sample to determine the damage to the soil after a veldfire went through the indigenous fynbos.

The soil sample, showing signs of the ash-bed effect. The nutrient-rich ach is excellent for the germination of seeds.

Indigenous pioneer plants quickly establish after a veldfire – illustrating the value of the ash-bed.

The clever positioning of wattle trees forms part of the Fire Manager’s strategy to help prevent or contain veldfires that can destroy indigenous vegetation, animal and human life and assets. This
is due to the nitrogen-fixing capacity of the roots which assist in the fast decomposition (breaking down) of organic litter. Less organic litter reduces the fire risk, as well as the severity of veldfires.

Observation and decision-making ... Fires impact on the environment and quality of human life. It also demands of the Fire Manager to continuously make decisions to mitigate the effects of a runaway fire as it spreads.

Devastation…In the aftermath of a veldfire which destroyed all vegetation, soil erosion is clearly visible, adding to the ecological disaster.