By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK In preparation for the natural devastation of wild forest fires during the winter season this year, Forestry authorities are encouraging inhabitants of the Kavango and Caprivi Regions to apply early for fire prevention assistance. It is a known fact that wild fires continue to remain a major cause of concern with regard to the conservation of the natural environment and forest resources in these two regions. During an interview with New Era this week, Public Relations Officer of the Community Forestry in North-Eastern Namibia (CFNEN), Wolfgang Adamek, said more than 95 percent of the yearly occurring fires are caused by human beings. "The problem in Namibia is that humans set these fires late in the year when vegetation is very dry, and this results in the fires being even more destructive as it spreads quicker over larger areas, destroying big parts of our forests," explained Adamek. This in turn is a major problem as blazing wild forest fires have the potential to endanger not only the environment and wildlife in the area, but can be fatal to humans as well. "Fire is regularly endangering human, wild and plant life, and the problem in both the Kavango and Caprivi Regions is the intensity and frequency of the fires," said Adamek, adding that 30 percent of the land in these two regions has been almost burnt out. Reasons for people burning forests is mainly for agricultural purposes like clearing natural vegetation for plantation, for hunting wild animals or even for petty reasons like "setting a fire to chase away bees". It is against this background that the Forestry conservation officials are now urging local communities in these regions to apply for financial assistance for basic tools in fire prevention, for training in fire management, as well as for permits. Adamek noted that setting a fire without permission is punishable by law, advising those wanting to clear areas by such means to obtain permission from the Traditional Authority and the Forestry Department. "People need to get permission before starting a fire so that they can be assisted on how it is done, and so as to prevent the fire from spreading," he said. Last year, in the Caprivi, the Directorate of Forestry within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, conducted a "prescribed burning technique" aimed at preventing wild fires. "We start big fires early in the year (when it is not dry), but this is done as a trial phase. Yet the results are promising as it minimizes the extent of bigger forest fires erupting, especially in the dry winter period," explained Adamek. In October last year the CFNEN, together with various communities in the Kavango Region, also introduced for the first time the new "Strip-Burning Technique" as an alternative to stopping fires before they get out of control. Adamek said that so far this exercise is progressing well as many fires have been kept away in most forest areas of the region.
New Era Reporter
2007-03-01 00:00:00 12 years ago