Zimbabwe — A government minister says the law will take its course on individuals who start fires which is among other dangers destroying grazing land, thereby undermining the countrys cattle restocking programme.
Launching the 2012 National Fire Week at a press briefing in Harare, Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema said his ministry has this year noted with concern that the country does not have enough livestock feed hence the need for communities to stop veld fires that are destroying grazing land.
He said traditional chiefs will prosecute individuals who start fires that are undermining the countrys ongoing government cattle restocking programme.
Systematic ecological and localized environmental degradation is becoming highly prominent as a result of uncontrolled fires.
This lowers the natural resilience of ecosystems to disaster impact and delays recovery. Veld fires also destroy grazing land, he said.
ZERO Regional Environment Organisation Acting Director, Sheppard Zvigadza and Environment Africa Country Director, Barnabas Mawire said the problem of veld fires require collaborative effort and the adoption of necessary fire preventive measures by communities.
A number of fire outbreaks have already been recorded this season alone with one farmer in Mashonaland central losing a combine harvester, farm equipment and his tons of maize crop.
The 2012 national fire week launch was endorsed by a number of youths organisations who undertook the commitment to ensure that communities are empowered to sustainably manage and protect the environment.
In 2010 about 1,1million hectares were lost to veldt fires while in 2011 the figure declined to 714 000 hectares.
Similarly, five lives were lost in the 2011 fire season as compared to 25 lives which were lost in 2010.
Analysts believe such a reduction is a result of massive awareness campaigns as well as collaborative measures with traditional leaders, the ZRP and communities.
Commemorations for the National fire week are at Proton Farm in Goromonzi North this Wednesday with the theme Protect the Environment Prevent Veld Fires.