• July 14th, 2020

Farmers warned against veld fires



As fire season starts, Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) manager Michael Degé urges all farmers and charcoal producers to take the necessary precautions to avoid veld fires this year. 

Degé, speaking to Farmers Forum yesterday, said the country has received good rainfall in almost all the regions of the country, which had a positive effect on rangelands that recovered.
“In many areas, the grass is standing tall. We are now at the start of the dry season and the dangers of veld fires are posing a huge risk to all farmland in Namibia,” he warned.

“Farmers have suffered from a severe drought the past couple of years and this will take at least five years to fully recover, provided the next couple of seasons also bring average rainfall to Namibia,” he added.

“We, therefore, urge all framers – not only charcoal producers – to take the necessary precautions to prevent fires,” he stressed.
 He said it has come to the association’s attention that charcoal burners are not clearing enough space around kilns to prevent veld fires. 
“We have noticed that an area of less than one meter is cleared. This is extremely dangerous. We have also noticed that wood is sticking out of the kilns and strong winds can easily set the area around a kiln alight,” he said. 

According to him, the association have asked the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group schemes to ensure their members follow the guidelines as set out in the FSC rules.
He said if the rules are not adhered to, producers might end up losing their FSC certification. 
“All farms, irrespective if they are producing charcoal or not, must adhere to fire breaks and clearing the fences bordering on neighbours. Fire breaks are used in case of emergencies for emergency vehicles to reach a specific spot on a farm as quickly as possible. It is imperative that all farmers adhere to these rules,” he emphasised.

 He also urged producers to contact the NCA offices should they have any queries around the said rules.
Also, he said the association has compiled new burning techniques, taking the dry season into consideration. 
“The NCA has employed three charcoal experts who can be booked at the offices to render training as well as support on the new burning techniques,” he added.  Meanwhile, regions most affected are usually the Zambezi, the Kavangos, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, but parts of Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Kunene and Khomas also fall victim to these fires. 

Some of the reasons for poor fire control and management practices, experts told Farmers Forum, are due to inadequate incentives to take control measures because of unclear property rights in communal lands, inadequate co-ordination and co-operation between villagers, confusion caused by overlapping laws, traditional rules and inadequate skills and resources. 

Veld fires destroy valuable timber and forest products, such as grass for grazing, grass for thatching and animals. The damaged environment also has an adverse impact on the tourism sector, one of Namibia’s most important sources of foreign revenue.  According to information at hand, in 2012, about 70 million hectares of grazing was lost to veld fires. The Kavango and Otjozondjupa regions were the worst affected.
A total of 21 627 hectares were lost in the Kavango region between April and November last year, with more than 13 000 hectares destroyed in September alone.

In the Otjozondjupa region, veld fires destroyed more than 9 000 hectares in August last year, while another 5 679 hectares burned down in September that same year.  During that same period, almost 8 000 hectares were destroyed in the Omaheke region.
In the Omusati region, a total of 2 475 hectares were destroyed in June last year and a senior forester within the ministry told The Namibian that incidents of veld fires increased during the winter months in some regions. - ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na
 


Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-06-02 09:08:17 | 1 months ago

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