Namibia — NELAO HAIMBODI WILD fires which break out in remote areas within the Greater Waterberg Landscape cause immense damage to the environment and are a threat to farmers and communities in general.
The Namibia Protected Landscape Conservation Areas Initiative (NAM-PLACE) project under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in partnership with the Directorate of Forestry recently held a two-day fire management training for members of the Greater Waterberg landscape within the Otjozondjupa region at Cheetah Conservation Fund.
“The need for the fire fighting training was identified as one of the priorities of the landscape, given that veld fire is a concern to this landscape and the country as a whole. The impact of fires is detrimental to the environment and this training is aimed at building capacity for this area which is prone to veld fires,” says Laudika Halueendo, the Environmental Landscape Specialist from NAM-PLACE Project.
The Greater Waterberg Landscape comprises of the Waterberg Plateau Park, surrounding private farms and the communal conservancies of Ozonahi, African Wild Dog, Okamatapati and Otjituuo bringing the total size of the protected area to 18 763 km2.
The two-day training offered 30 participants both practical and theoretical approaches to fire prevention and suppression. Participants ranged from members of the communal conservancies, resettled farmers, Parks and Wildlife staff and CCF members.
Helena Lutombi Chief Forester for the Central Region said: “This training is a good initiative and it was long overdue, the Department of Forestry doesn’t have a fire fighting crew, so it was good for the people from the community to be part of the training.”
The training took the participants through a number of wildfire basics and topics covered ranged from the types and classes of fire, an introduction to fire prevention and the use of suitable fire fighting equipment and methods.
“When fires break out we used to ask help from Forestry but if they are unavailable we would use the farmers’ equipment,” says Ebenhard Karita, chairperson of the Okamatapati Conservancy, who was one of the participants.
“If we undergo this training and obtain some more fire fighting equipment, we can disseminate the information to other people in our areas and this practical experience is very important,” he added.
The practical session was held with a demonstration of the best fire suppression practices in the field. During this session, participants were given a chance to engage in hands-on suppression of the fire using fire engines.
“Plans are underway for NAM-PLACE to buy fire fighting equipment for the landscape to enable these participants to develop a fire fighting system and also enable them to better address the issue of wild fires within the landscape,” says Halueendo.