Saturday, September 18, 2021

Midlands loses thousands of hectares of vegetation to veld fires

Tinaani Nyabereka
GWERU – Midlands
province has seen massive destruction of vegetation last year due to veld fires
most of which were caused by human activities.
cases of wild fires happen in resettlement areas where people were given A1 and
A2 pieces of land during the Land Reform Programme.
of the land belongs to absentee landlords who hold it simply for speculative
purposes, while those who live there have little means to fight the fires.
Management Agency (Ema) Midlands provincial education and publicity officer,
Oswald Ndlovu said most of the fires could be attributed to human activities.
veld fires are caused by human activities such as opening up new arable land
using fire, deliberate lighting of fires for hunting purposes, gold panning,
careless throwing away of cigarette stubs and improper ash disposal.
late, veld fires have resulted in severe environmental degradation which also
translates to diminished livelihoods. In Midlands province, a total of 114 035.04
hectares of land were burnt in 2018. 
This, however, translates to a 0.26 percent reduction from the 2017 record
of 126 652.68 hectares,” said Ndlovu.
encouraged people to make fire guards in their areas in order to avoid large scale
destruction of vegetation and land.
Fire guards are belts of land measuring at least nine metres
in width on either side of a boundary that are cleared of all combustible
material such as grass, shrubs and leaf litter. These can be made using
ox-drawn ploughs or using tractors.
in projects such as beekeeping, hay-baling and thatch grass-harvesting not only
helps in income generation, but in reducing fires as well. Hay-baling and
grass-combing projects help to reduce biomass. In 2018, a total of 368 001
bales were made countrywide with an estimated value of $552 001.
Midlands, a total of 67 770 bales with an estimated value of $101 550 were
produced.  In 2018, thatch grass-harvesting
was done throughout the country at community level as a way of biomass
reduction and improving livelihoods,” he said.
Instrument (SI) 7 of 2007 (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection
Regulations) criminalises the deliberate starting of open fires between 31 July
and 31 October, failure to put in place a standard fireguard of at least 9m and
passing or driving past a fire and failure to report a fire to Ema, police or fire

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