Veld fires increase alarming

By Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE has recorded a 31% upsurge in veld fires for the period between 31 July and 31 October compared to the same period last year, claiming at least three lives, the minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu has said.
Veld fires have become one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time, causing unprecedented damage to Zimbabwe’s natural resources, forests, animal habitat and even leading to the loss of lives and valuable property.
According to a recent Cabinet Briefing, “Cabinet was informed that a total of 1 153 fire incidents burning 684 070.22 hectares of land were recorded since the beginning of the fire season, compared to 1 508 incidences and 1 158291 hectares burnt over the same period in 2019,” the government said.
In Zimbabwe, the fire season starts on the 1st July and ends on the 31st October; no one is allowed to start fires outside their houses during this season unless they have given a 14-day notice to EMA, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and neighbours. It is called the fire season because veld fires are prevalent during this time of the year, especially between June and November, which are characterized by conducive weather conditions for the spread of fires such as strong winds, hot temperatures and arid conditions.
Last year, 4 people lost their lives as a result o veld fires.
In 2010, a total of 10 deaths were recorded as a result of veld fires. The recorded number of fires that season stood at 9 361.
Apart from the loss of human life frequent burning has implications on carbon socks and emissions, wildlife habitat, human health as well as livelihoods. Veld Fires lead to severe environmental degradation by reducing land cover thus, exposing the land to agents of accelerated soil erosion due to an increase in overland flow or surface run-off and modifications in various ecological processed. Soil erosion leads to the siltation of rivers and dams, which reduces their water carrying capacity, inducing floods, in low-lying areas and changes the hydrological cyclone.
Research by EMA over the years reveals that most veld fires are human-induced as a result of activities such as land clearing, hunting, smoking of bees for honey harvesting, amongst other activities.

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