Zimbabwe — GOVERNMENT and stakeholders in the environment sector have called for stiffer penalties to curb environmental degradation. This comes amid revelations that there has been an increase in the number of veld fires in recent months.
In his World Environment Commemoration Day message, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Cde Francis Nhema, said that the Government wanted to put in place legislation to reduce the cases of environmental degradation. We want to come up with measures that we must take to discipline those people who destroy the environment, especially the issue of litter is an embarrassment, he said. At least 10 people died last year inveld fire-related incidents. Cde Nhema said that most forests had been destroyed because of the electricity shortage that has led to a surge in demand for firewood. Regrettably, most of our communal areas have long been turned into grassland, wooded forests have since disappeared due to anthropogenic activities, he said. The remainder of these woodlands is now under threat from high demand for fuelwood in most urban centres. The day was commemorated under the theme: Many species, one planet, one future care and share. As we celebrate this day, let us consider carefully the actions each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on earth for our common future, said Cde Nhema. Let us employ our individual and collective power to stem the tide of extinction threatening many of our local plant and animal species. Environment Africa field officer Mr Kudzanayi Gwande said that toughmeasures must be taken to curb veld fires. He said that most veld fires were concentrated in farming areas. There must be community service relating to veld fires, one or two can be put in custody so that the whole nation will know that they must conserve the environment, he said. Areas that are mainly concentrated with veld fires are farming areas. If the culprit is a farm, they must be evicted from the farm. A chief from Tsholotsho last year fined a man a cow for starting a veld fire.