1 August 2016
THE month of August is popular for the wild winds and the dry conditions that make it dangerous for people to start fires, especially in open environments like farming fields.
In one year, Zimbabwe loses over one million hectares of forests due to uncontrolled fires and it will take years to restore those forests and what they are worth.
Meanwhile more veld fires will be storming out of control this spring and more millions of hectares of forests will be destroyed.
If this circle continues, soon this once-green nation will become a desert. It is time everyone â€“ from the kindergartens to the elderly â€“ is educated on the risks of starting fires this season. It is time people know the value of the forests that are constantly destroyed through veld fires and the amount of time it takes to develop these forests.
Forests are an important resource that Zimbabwe is fast running out of. Besides resettlement and conversion of forests to farming lands, veld fire is an even faster means of destroying forests.
The destruction means recycling of wood products, and the conversion of biomass to energy would become impossible.
Also destroyed would be all other forest operations that see to it that schools have stationery and offices and homes all over the country have furniture.
Over 1500 fire incidents are reported in the country per year and the majority of the fires are started in spring as that is the season people lose control of fires.
Especially in this windy season, a fire should always be started in a controlled environment and should be manageable all the time.
Starting a fire in the open â€“ especially veld fire â€“ is discouraged as the fire can easily shoot out of control.
If one is starting a fire â€“ even in an urban setting â€“ a lot of caution still needs to be exercised. People need to be aware of their surroundings.
There should be other means to get rid of the housekeeping dirt that burning.
Fires are a huge danger to human resources as well. A total 16 lives were lost in fires in 2012 â€“ deaths that could have been avoided had people heeded the call not to start veld fires.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) are doing the right thing in increasing awareness of the effects of veld fires and how the fires are detrimental to our progress going into the future.
The millions of hectares lost due to veld fires and the deaths that were recorded are a sad statistic that we do not want to see again at the close of this year.
Fire incidents have been caused by people who start fire unnecessarily and in the end fail to control it leading to many disasters.