SEVERAL villages in the Caprivi and Kavango regions and in the Tsumkwe area are benefiting from an N$40 million German-funded forestry conservation programme being implemented under the Forestry Directorate at Environment and Tourism.
The project is being funded by DED a German development agency.
Under the theme “fight fire, save forests,” the project covers five villages in the Caprivi, eight in the Kavango and one village in the Tsumkwe district in the Otjozondjupa Region. It will run over eight years.
Presently, the project has started to provide admini-strative, logistical and techni-cal support to local commu-nities in Caprivi and Okavan-go, where beneficiary commu-nities are already managing resources for their people.
The project also bridges the gap among the custodians of the forest in the targeted villages where villagers are able to benefit from forestry management programmes.
Currently, several com-munities in North-Eastern Namibia have already received training on forest fire preven-tion and various handling techniques.
The project puts emphasis on the dangers posed by uncontrolled bush fires, according to Wycliffe Nabaasa the public relations officer in the Directorate of Forestry in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
Nabaasa said 90 percent of bush fires were caused through human activity such as those started to clear forests for farming purposes, smo-kers, hunters, children, fruit gatherers and those who smoke out beehives for honey.
Other causes of these fires are lightning, rolling stones and even underground fires that usually destroy pastures for domestic animals and for game.
At the same time, some trees are normally damaged by these fires that also affect the grass that is used for thatching purposes. Soil fertility is also adversely affected, said Nabaasa.
According to case studies and observations the fires are said to be fuelled by factors such as flammable liquids, topography of the land for instance ragged terrain; slopping and flat land while the direction of the wind speed and the existing tem-perature can also be other contributingfactors.
Awareness campaigns and educating villagers about the importance of preserving the forests could be among the fire control measures.
Under the existing tradi-tional authority law a person convicted for starting a fire is liable to pay a fine of five cattle or even more beasts depending on the extent of the blaze. In terms of the Forest Act a person found guilty of starting a fire could be imprisoned for a period of not less than one year or a fine not exceeding N$4 000, or both. Some people in the Caprivi have a tendency of starting bush fires so that they could have better grazing for their livestock.