Zimbabwe — VELD fires have destroyed 62 566 hectares of pastures countrywide since the fire season started last month, Environmental Management Agency director general, Mrs Mutsa Chasi has said.
The most affected area is Mashonaland West province which has lost 15 727 ha so far. The fire season starts on July 1 until October 30 every year or beginning of the rain season.
Mrs Chasi said her organisation had undertaken a nationwide training of traditional leaders, which culminated in 339 training sessions involving 4 537 traditional leaders and law enforcement agents.
“We conducted 206 training sessions to build their capacity to monitor and regulate environmental offences.
To date we have conducted these training programmes in all of the country’s provinces for both traditional leaders and ZRP members,” she said.
She said the agency had carried out a series of environmental fire awareness campaigns that included 33 fire launches and 11 road shows in all districts across the country.
“The awareness campaigns are aimed at creating knowledgeable communities with regards to veld fire management. The awareness campaigns also aim to change behaviour attitude and perceptions
that perpetuate incidences of veld fires,” she explained.
EMA has since set up 48 committees and sub-committees and held 494 workshops and meetings with the committees in all local authorities as per the provisions of EMA CAP 20:27.
The meetings also saw the election of 494 environmental monitors who assist in fire suppression surveillance and control throughout the fire season.
These committees have been trained to build their capacity to deal with veld fire related issues at their level.
Additionally, the agency has set up provincial and district fire committees and trained 330 fire-fighting teams in all the provinces.
These committees oversee and co-ordinate fire-related activities at provincial and district level. Mrs Chasi said EMA expected every farmer and property holder to have standard fireguards, which are at least 9 metres on either side of their boundaries.
“When using fire as a land management tool, all such activities should be done before the start of the fire-season. Farmers are also expected to have trained fire-fighting teams on their farms, which should always be alert to put out fires when they occur,” further explained Mrs Chasi.