Talent Gore

THE Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has reported that the country has experienced 412 fire incidents during this year’s fire restriction period, which began on July 31.

The fires have burnt 34 194 hectares of veld, leading to land degradation

The agency has predicted that the country is very susceptible to veld fires this year, with high and extreme risk areas being Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North, Nyanga, Mutasa, Mutare, and Chimanimani.

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, has gazetted the 2023 Fire Restriction Period, which will run until November 30.

EMA has urged communities to report fire offenders to law enforcement agencies and ensure a zero-tolerance approach to veld fires in their local areas.

“The 2022/23 rainfall season has been normal to above normal thus supporting the growth of biomass, which when dry, will act as fuel load resulting in intense veld fires,” EMA said.

“To that end, the Agency established a fire risk prediction for 2023, which concluded that the country is very susceptible to veld fires this year. 

“The fire risk modelling revealed that the country is in the following categories: low risk 18.14 percent, medium risk (41.25 percent), high risk (39.56 percent) and extreme risk (1.05 percent) of the total land area of Zimbabwe.”

EMA said most fires were largely management fires coming from fire guard construction, early burning and block burning.

This has seen the strengthening of collaborations and synergies between the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, and all relevant stakeholders for the purpose of protecting the environment, agricultural produce, livestock, and agricultural equipment and infrastructure.

“According to Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007, it remains a punishable offence to light a fire outside residential or commercial premises during the Fire Restriction Period. 

“Therefore, the Agency and related law enforcement will keep an eye on fire behaviour and trends in the country during this period, and all those found violating the law will be prosecuted.”

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