By Nomalanga Makwelo
As the veld fire season fast approaches , environmental agencies will be conducting awareness programs
to educate and conscetise urban and rural communities on the effects of veld fires on the environment.
Bulawayo District Conservationist with the Forestry Commission Bekithemba Ngwenya says there is an urgent need to educate locals.
” We as the Forestry Commission will be conducting awareness campaigns in communities to encourage and educate residents on the importance of making fire guards and veld fire prevention strategies . It is important to establish committee’s to assist us with the awareness programs to prevent veld fires from damaging forests.”
Sharing the same sentiments with Ngwenya was Environment Education and Publicity Manager for the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Amkela Sidange , who emphasized on the need to educate farmers about preventive measures that would help curb veld fires.
” From the current satellite imaging which we use for fire prediction shows that 65.2 % of the country is at high risk and 24.7% is at extreme risk of veld fires , in total 89.9 % of the country is vulnerable to fire come this season. The risk is higher for Matebeleland Regions and Masvingo including those areas which were traditionally not at risk of veld fires because of the high rainfall received this year.”
Speaking before Parliament on Monday, Senator Prisca Mupfumira said close to 100 million hectares of land since the year 2001, had been lost to veld fires ,which she attributed to lack of knowledge by farmers who started them to clear their land as well as malicious people who intended to destroy land for no reason.