National guidelines on Forest Fire Management in Namibia

National Guidelines on Forest Fire Management in Namibia
Final Draft 31 March/2001

(IFFN No. 25 – July 2001)


Principles on Monitoring of Statistical Data on Forest Fires

Statistical data on forest fires is important for preparing fire management plans. Statistical data can also be used to motivate and arouse the attention of decision makers, local politicians, other related institutions and the general public. These statistics include, at a minimum, data on forest fire occurrence, emerging hot spots, manpower, facilities and infrastructure as well as estimated damages.


Encourage all forestry and Government institutions, farmers associations and traditional authorities in local communities to develop:

  1. A database on forest fire occurrence with emphasis on the data collection at local/field level, at a minimum, data on forest fire occurrence, manpower, tools and equipment, facilities and infrastructure, possible damage (human, environment, cattle, infrastructure). At a minimum data will include location, day, month, year of occurrence, time spent on suppression, size of burned area, vegetation type, costs involved.
  2. Database on manpower resources including; IFFM staff and personnel, classified by their duties, educational level, training courses attended (e.g. on prescribed burning, international seminars), duty location and status (Chief, Contractor, D.o.F. extension worker).
  3. Database on facilities and infrastructure including number and location of: Bakkies, hand tools, swatters, back pack pumps, sleeping bags, tents, cooking devices, radios.
  4. Adequate computer facilities and software for data processing
  5.   Standardized reporting tally sheets for computer processing
  6. Obtain qualified staff and personnel to carry out above duties
  7. A way or process to evaluate or assess the efficiency and effectiveness of:
    • The National Fire Forum
    • The local Fire Committee
    • The local Fire Protection Association

Principles for Monitoring of Fire Risk and Hazard Areas

It is important to determine the specific regions and districts susceptible to fire in order to set national priorities for allocation of resources and concentration of manpower. The forest fire potential of an area can be determined based upon climatological data and weather information, human activities within the area and condition and amount of biomass. The recorded national amounts of rainfall will already give an indication as to where severe fires are to be expected.


  1. In the short-term, there is a need to determine the beginning of the dry season utilizing forecasts from the Meteorological Bureau, and to disseminate the information nationwide. This allows the local fire management organizations to anticipate the coming fire season and make necessary preparations.
    Steps should be taken to o strengthen the co-ordination between the fire organizations and the Meteorological Bureau. Information on weather conditions and forecasts must be readily shared between the W.B. and all fire institutions. Likewise there is a need to make the regional and local weather data collected readily available locally. This would include local data like: Wind speed, humidity of the air, moisture and amount of biomass (grass).
  2. In the long-term, it is necessary to develop a National Fire Danger Rating System so that daily forest fire forecasts can be made.
  3. Notify all communities, commercial farms and organizations within high fire risk areas to take necessary prevention actions. Provide guidelines to local communities and commercial farms on prevention measures to be taken during the various phases of the fire season.
  4. Encourage all regional/district MET-offices to construct signboards or warning notice boards displaying current forest fire danger level.
  5. Strengthen D.o.F/MET information network at all levels to be able to provide information quickly so that field officers and staff can make adjustments on the signs as reflected by the current fire danger level.

Principles governing an Early Fire Detection System

Early fire suppression may be achieved when an early detection system has been established and operates well at all levels. This achievement is closely related to the establishment of a fire organization with its root in HQ and branches covering the fire prone areas of Namibia.
Early detection is possible by using by alerting all traditional authorities, Government offices and Fire Protection Associations. Alerting people could take place by using NBC radio, wooden drums, hand held radios. In addition, optimal use of existing means such as ground patrolling, watching from fire towers or look-out posts, will ensure that fire may be detected at an early stage.
For forest areas in remote and inaccessible areas, it is necessary to establish co-operative agreements with other institutions and Government agencies and Farm Associations. The central level of the Directorate of Forestry (D.o.F.) should initiate the construction of a satellite receiving station to cover the forest areas of Namibia. The fire information can be delivered by: phone, fax or e-mail.
The satellite data may be verified through the Global Fire Monitoring Center in Freiburg, Germany.


  1. Encourage all forest management units at field level to prepare detection facilities and infrastructure such as fire lookouts and to strengthen the detection system in their respective areas. D.o.F. offices should provide guidance to all stakeholders regarding the development and implementation of local detection systems.
  2. To strengthen the detection capabilities and responsibilities of traditional authorities by explaining their responsibilities towards management of forest fires as outlined in The Traditional Authorities Act and the new Forest Bill.
  3. Use traditional ways of relaying messages to neighbouring communities or NBC radio, in commercial areas by hand held radios or by commercial radio stations.
  4. Formalize co-operative agreements with stakeholders and air transport operators and with the national airline (AirNamibia).


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Country Notes
IFFN No. 25

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