Department seeks to manage veld fires

Department seeks to manage veld fires

09 May 2013

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Botswana — Every year, uncontrollable veld fires, mostly started by people, ruin the country’s rich grazing pastures, forests, crops and even kill animals and human beings.

Last year alone, veld fires destroyed more than one million hectares between January and August, according to the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR).

Therefore, the need to make this fire season a safe one cannot be overemphasised; hence DFRR coming up with a number of initiatives meant to effectively and efficiently manage veld fires.

Responding to a BOPA questionnaire, DFRR’s director, Dr Mmasera Manthe-Tsuaneng, said her department would be working with communities and other stakeholders to reduce fire out breaks.

“Community members should volunteer their services to manage fires because they destroy their grazing areas and crops,” said Dr Manthe-Tsuaneng, adding that they would be trained on basic fire management. They would also be mobilised to form community based fire management (CBFiM) teams in fire prone areas, such as Ghanzi, Ngamiland and Kgalagadi, she said.

There would also be timely grading of stretches of land to be used as anchor points to reduce the spread of fires, she said, adding that in the Central District, the CBFiMs would be formed by grouping villages, the hospitality sector and ranchers associations.

She said 263 community members had been trained and 100 staff in the hospitality sector would be trained on firefighting techniques. There would also be mobilisation of first responders, who would be placed at strategic areas, she said.

“The teams are composed of departmental staff and equipped to quickly respond to and contain fires before they get bigger.” She noted.

She said the fires seemed to be mostly caused by people, either at camping sites, grass harvesting sites, burning of heaps of dry cut trees and careless smoking.

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