Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

VELD fires are blazes that get out of con­trol and be­come wild, and in the process de­stroy ex­ten­sive tracts of forests, grass­lands, an­i­mals, peo­ple and their prop­er­ties. This fre­quent burn­ing has im­pli­ca­tion on car­bon stocks and emis­sions, wildlife habi­tat; hu­man health and life as well as liveli­hoods.Veld fires are a prob­lem be­cause they pose a risk to life, prop­erty and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The “Fire Sea­son” Veld fire be­hav­iour de­pends on the mois­ture sta­tus of the veld and pre­vail­ing whether con­di­tions. Vi­o­lent fires re­sult when the veld is dry cou­pled with hot —windy weather con­di­tions. The spring sea­son (1 Au­gust to 31 Oc­to­ber) is usu­ally char­ac­terised by hot and windy days and co­in­cides with the pe­riod when most grasses will be dry and de­cid­u­ous trees would have shed their leaves. This pe­riod is popularly termed the “Fire sea­son” be­cause of the high risk of veld fire out­breaks and is when most veld fires are ex­pe­ri­enced. Com­mon Causes of Veld fires

Most veld fires re­sult from the ac­tiv­i­ties of man such as: Im­proper house­hold ash dis­posal De­lib­er­ate light­ing of fires/ar­son Chil­dren play­ing with matches

Reck­less dis­posal of lit ci­garette stubs es­pe­cially by mo­torists

Light­ing fire at road servi­tudes whilst wait­ing for early morn­ing buses

What is veld fire man­age­ment? Veld fire man­age­ment is the process of plan­ning, pre­vent­ing and fight­ing fires to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, life and prop­erty. This is an in­te­gral part of for­est man­age­ment to at­tain forestry, wildlife and land-use ob­jec­tives. Con­struc­tion of fire guards should be on the cal­en­dar of all land users and/or prop­erty own­ers each and ev­ery year to com­ply with Sec­tion 15(1) of Statu­tory In­stru­ment No. 7 of 2007. This makes it manda­tory to put in place stan­dard fire­guards as pre-sup­pres­sion mea­sures which pre­vent fires from spread­ing.

Best Prac­tices in Fire Man­age­ment These are mea­sures which should be put in place be­fore the oc­cur­rence of a veldt fire to curb and pre­vent their rapid spread and the as­so­ci­ated de­struc­tion.

Fire-fight­ing equip­ment should be at hand or in ar­eas which are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble through out the fire sea­son.

Form fire-fight­ing teams or com­mit­tees which can ed­u­cate the lo­cal peo­ple on the best prac­tices to use whilst putting out veld fires in your com­mu­ni­ties.

The com­mu­nity should also mon­i­tor the ar­eas from which most of the veld fires orig­i­nate from in so that they will not be caught off-guard.

Con­struct stan­dard fire­guards which are at least 9me­tres wide on ei­ther side of a boundary line/ fence us­ing ei­ther the trac­tor, ox-drawn plough or hoe­ing meth­ods.

The com­mu­ni­ties should put in place fire warn­ing sys­tems like bells in or­der to warn the lo­cal in­hab­i­tants about a veld fire. What does the Law Say? Ac­cord­ing to For­est Act (Cap 19:05) as read with Statu­tory In­stru­ment 7 of 2007 En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment (En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact Assess­ment and Ecosys­tems Pro­tec­tion) Reg­u­la­tions state that:

It is the duty of the land user, owner or des­ig­nated au­thor­ity to put in place fire preven­tion mea­sures;

No per­son shall de­lib­er­ately cause a fire out­side res­i­den­tial or com­mer­cial premises dur­ing the fire sea­son (31 July – 31 Oc­to­ber).

The land user, owner, farmer, lessee or des­ig­nated au­thor­ity is re­spon­si­ble for ex­tin­guish­ing all fires on their prop­erty re­gard­less of the ori­gin of the fire: and

In case of a fire out­break any per­son within the vicin­ity of the fire other than the user or the owner of that land must ex­tin­guish the fire

En­vi­ron­men­tal Facts, Tips and Up­dates are pub­lished weekly by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency. Read­ers can email is­sues they would like dealt with on this plat­form to; Like us on face­book and twit­ter or visit our web­site Al­ter­na­tively, call us on: Tel 04-305543 and Toll-free 08080028; or use our What­sapp plat­form 0779565707. We are ready to lis­ten.

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