Veld Fires Destroy Millions of Hectares

Uncontrolled forest and veld fires destroy some five to seven million hectares of land in Namibia annually. The fires are now a real threat again with the driest months of the year approaching, coupled with the seasonal g winds of July and August.

Despite the National Forest and Veld Fire Management Campaign driving home this message regularly, millions of hectares of valuable grazing are continuously destroyed, while the productivity of the land is compromised and even human lives are lost.

Uncontrolled veld fires are sometimes caused by lightning during the rainy season, but mostly by people in the dry season. Namibians have been reminded again that it is the responsibility of every citizen to help curb fires. Regions most affected are usually Zambezi, the Kavangos, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, but parts of Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Kunene and Khomas also fall victim to these fires.

Some of the reasons for poor fire control and management practices, experts told New Era, are due to inadequate incentives to take control measures because of unclear property rights in communal lands, inadequate co-ordination and co-operation between villagers, confusion caused by overlapping laws, traditional rules and inadequate skills and resources.

Veld fires destroy valuable timber and forest products such as grass for grazing, grass for thatching, and animals. The damaged environment also has an aerse impact on the tourism sector, one of Namibia’s most important earners of foreign revenue.

The fight against uncontrolled forest and veld fires has become a multi-stakeholder commitment over the years and these include the Emergency Management Unit and the various government ministries, together with the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU).

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, every year calls on all Namibians to take precautionary measures against veld fires. “Any irresponsible acts that may result in the outbreak of veld fires anywhere in Namibia will and must be regarded as a criminal offence and those responsible will and must be prosecuted and legally punished,” Mutorwa is quoted as saying.

Source : New Era