Veld fires on the increase: Nhema

More than 1,3 million hectares of land were destroyed last year by veld fires

More than 1,3 million hectares of land were destroyed last year by veld fires.

Report by Don Makanyanga

This marked a 46% increase in recorded fires from the previous fire season of 2011 where a total 700 00 hectares were lost.

The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema says stern measures must be put in place to stem the increase in veld fires.

“Fire statistics from the 2012 fire season demonstrate that there is more to be done in terms of veld fire management. Nationally in 2012, 1,3 million hectares were burnt representing a 46% increase from the 700 000 hectares lost in the year 2011,” said the minister.

Nhema said his ministry would continue to engage communities in protecting the environment, which saw the ministry embarking on national fire awareness campaigns throughout the country.

“We continue to engage communities and other stakeholders in promoting environmental stewardship as a way of enhancing the spirit of ownership of the natural resources and the environment at large,” he said.

In 2012, a total of 874 tickets for fire-related offences and 1 131 orders were issued to property owners.

The minister commended the collaboration that his ministry has been enjoying with the ZRP which saw more than 120 fire offenders being arrested during the 2012 season.

“Our collaboration with Zimbabwe Republic police led to the prosecution of fire offenders in 2012 resulting in 129 dockets being opened and of these 67 went to the courts.”

Nhema appealed to the courts to take stern measures and treat environmental crime perpetrators as real offenders.

“The 67 cases taken to the courts led to the conviction of three people. I am appealing to the courts to take stern measures against the perpetrators and treat the issues to do with the environment seriously,” he said.  

Nearly 325km of fire guards have been cleared across the country before the start of the fire season in July this year.