… Midlands Province should consider hay baling and thatch grass harvesting to reduce veld fires
By Partinella Ngozo
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says the Midlands province continues to experience veld fires despite awareness efforts on the dangers of veld fires for both humans, animals and the mother earth.
It is against this background that EMA encouraged members of the community to engage in projects including hay baling and thatch grass harvesting that will also help in deriving financial benefits.
EMA Midlands Environmental Education and Publicity Officer Oswald Ndlovu told this publication that people should listen to weather updates on the fire danger index as well as engage in projects such as hay baling and thatch grass harvesting which does not only help with income generation but also reduces veld fires. Hay baling and grass combing projects help in reducing biomass while at the same time help people in deriving financial benefits.”
He also stated that human activities such as clearing up arable land using fire, deliberate lighting of fires for hunting purposes, lighting fires along road servitudes while waiting for transport, gold panning, children playing with fire, careless throwing away of cigarette stubs and improper ash disposal are some of the causes of veld fires.
“Fires cause air pollution as well as destroying flora and fauna. Apart from affecting the natural environment, veld fires also destroy valuables such as livestock and household assets. They are also a threat to human life as they may cause injuries or death,” said Ndlovu.
“In addition to fire guard construction, landowners have to ensure that they have trained fire-fighting personnel as well as functional fire-fighting equipment such as fire beaters and knapsack sprays. Traditional leaders also need to ensure that in their areas of jurisdiction, there is an agreed fire alert system such as bells, whistles, drum beats and gongs.”
In the 2019 fire season, a total of 75 364.27 hectares of grassland were burnt in Midlands compared to 114 035 hectares that were destroyed in 2018. Gokwe South recorded the highest number of fire incidences which resulted in the loss of 27 072.29 hectares followed by Kwekwe with 14 164.69ha and Chirumanzu, 13 462.4ha. No fatalities were recorded in the province last year.
Climate Reality Leader and founder of Climate Justice Zimbabwe (CJZ), Perseverance Javangwe also weighed in and spoke on the need to frequently educate the community on the importance of conserving mother earth.
“It is imperative that as a society we should avoid veld fires and reduce global warming which has resulted in the rising temperatures that have caused flooding, drought and cyclones in our country. In addition to the rise in temperatures veld fires destroy trees, animals and its habitats. Trees are vital to our lives, from the air that we breathe, the shades that we want to sit under especially with the hot temperatures that we are experiencing now. Therefore, there is need for awareness of the dangers of veld fires and why it is important for people to avoid veld fires.
“In order for us to reach the targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement we need to work collectively and help each other as a community because global warming has resulted in untold sufferings. The global warming, as many scientist have agreed, is as a result of human activities and starting a veld fire is such an example that is resulting in global warming. As a Climate Reality Leader I am willing to work with those that are willing in order for us to educate the society on the importance of reducing global warming through avoiding veld fires and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13,” said Javangwe.
Statutory instrument 7 of 2007 (Environmental impact assessment and ecosystems protection Regulations) states that it is an offence to; deliberately start open fires, fail to put in place a standard fireguard of at least 9m, pass/drive past a fire without assisting in putting it out, fail to report a fire to EMA, Police or Fire brigade.