Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
THREE people were killed and property worth US$187 167 was destroyed nationwide by veld fires since the onset of the fire season on July 31, the Environmental Management Agency has revealed.
In a statement, Environmental Management Agency (Ema) Education and Publicity Manager Mrs Amkela Sidange said 1 517 fire incidences that destroyed 408 366,7 hectares of land have been recorded.
She said this translates to 84,97 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020 when 220 778 hectares were burnt from 395 veld fire incidences that were recorded.
Mrs Sidange said the majority of veld fires were recorded in resettlement areas.
She said three lives were lost in veld fire related incidences this year while one person was killed last year.
“The veld fires have destroyed agricultural produce, equipment, household property and plantations worth US$187 167. The majority of the veld fires have been recorded in the resettlements 61,82 percent, communal lands 7,13 percent, forest 7,97 percent, safari 7,88 percent, small scale farms 7,05 percent, model A and D 5,56 percent, National Parks 1,94 percent, urban area 0,26 percent, recreational parks 0,12 percent and other land 0,26 percent.
Mrs Sidange said the trends in veld fire incidences require increased efforts by all stakeholders.
She urged communities to assist in law enforcement by providing information as requested by law enforcement agencies. Mrs Sidange also encouraged farmers to desist from clearing fireguards using fires now as it is windy, dry and hot.
“Law enforcement remains key in complementing accelerated education and awareness. We have so far issued 732 tickets, 5 027 veld fire environmental protection orders and opened 43 dockets. Significant losses have been registered in Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Mashonaland East.
“Notably the causes of the veld fires so far have been identified to be anthropogenic in nature specifically due to land clearing (28,92 percent), arson (27,72 percent), illegal mining (27,72 percent), poor ash disposal (12,05 percent) and hunting (3,61 percent). To that end people remain their own worst enemy in veld fire management in the country as almost all veld fires recorded so far are due to human activities,” she said. — @DubeMatutu