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Mash West records significant decrease in veld fires

by BustopTV

Lerato Ndlovu

Cases of bush fires in Mashonaland West province have decreased this past year as compared to 2018.

This comes after massive awareness campaigns and environmental sustainability activities which were aimed at eliminating veld fires in the areas.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Mashonaland West provincial manager, Rambwayi Mapako said the province, consisted of all the natural regions from 1 to 5 with a lot of game parks.

Most veld fires were a result of poachers targeting wild animals.

“The province consists of all the regions from 1 to 5 resulting in the existence of high biomass due to the relatively high rainfalls experienced in the province while a lot of game parks provide high veld fire prevalence due to poaching.

“The total area destroyed by veld fires in 2019 was 378 875.35 hectares as compared to 420 511.20 hectares in 2018, which represents a 10,64% decrease,” he said. “The decrease is attributed to a number of initiatives and programs that include bee keeping projects in Zvimba district, educational campaigns from grass-roots level, hay bailing and grass cutting for thatching.”

The pushing of prosecution for offenders and constant reminders for fireguards has helped the farmers in the province.

High rainfall levels also assisted in dealing with infernos.

“Prosecution of offenders, has also shown to be an effective way of reducing veld fires as fire tickets and opening of dockets reduced number of offenders and burnt areas while, constant reminders to farmers and communities to put standard fireguards has helped reduce the destruction caused by the fires.

“The availability of the excessive rains this season has also helped limit veld fires in the resettlement areas where we have the highest rate of fires as compared to communal lands.” Mapako said.

EMA recommended that there should be an urgent conclusion on the issue of illegal settlements and boundaries by engaging the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, introduction of environmental By-laws by local authorities and mandatory fire guard constructions by each farmer.

Veld fires in Zimbabwe are due to severe environmental degradation, reducing land cover thus exposing the land to agents of accelerated soil erosion, changes in the hydrological cycle, increase in overland flow or surface run off and modifications in various ecological processes, thus reducing water carrying capacity.

It is commonly agreed that veld fires are a single significant threat to national economic recovery plans as they are destroying not only pastures necessary for the restocking exercise, they are also destroying vast plantations.

Food security may be compromised as the last few years have seen fires burning wheat farms, maize fields among other consumables.

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