Zimbabwe: 90pc of Zim At High Risk of Veld Fires

Herald Reporter

Almost 90 percent of Zimbabwe will be at high risk of veld fires this year, a major threat to the to the bio-physical, social and economic environment because of its trail of destruction.

The higher danger this year is a direct result of the good rains in the last season that saw a lot more grass, shrubs and other potential fuels for veld fires grow and which dry out and become flameable in the dry seasons.

Veld fires are a common phenomenon during the dry seasons in the predominantly savannah ecosystems of Zimbabwe, and have been a challenge for so many years affecting farming communities destroying pastures, crop yields, soil fertility and the hydrological cycle. Environmental Management Agency's Education and Publicity Manager Amkela Sidange raised the concern in an interview saying there is a need to educate people on the safe use of fires during dry and windy seasons of the year because majority of veld fires are caused by humans.

"Abundant rains have resulted in massive growth of biomass as well as abundant yield that has been projected for the country. But however we want to look at the abundant biomass that we have now during the dry season making the country vulnerable to veld fires.

From the projections that we recently made, it actually shows that about 89 percent of the country is actually in the high the risk of veld fires and majority of them are caused by human activities,"she said.

EMA has started veld fires sensitisation programmes to build capacity among farmers and landowners on fire management strategies such as fireguard construction, biomass reduction through hay baling and thatch grass harvesting; as well as training and equipping of fire committees.

Ms Sidanke said veld fires need to be controlled nationwide to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment because the costs associated with veld fires have significantly affected the economic growth.

Last year Zimbabwe recorded 298 bush fires and lost 165 352,94 hectares to veld fires.

The fire season stretches from July 31 up to October 31 each year, although late rains will extend that into November.

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