Ema declares war on veld fires



THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has called for public awareness on veld fires as the country has been losing over a million hectares of land every year to veld fires.

In a statement yesterday, Ema spokesperson Amkela Sidange said despite a 30,38% decline in veld fires compared to the previous year, uncontrolled fires remained a major environmental and socio-economic threat to Zimbabwe.

“The 2020/21 season had good rains with the country receiving normal to above normal rainfall, and most areas received torrential rains, which resulted in enrichment of biomass in both natural ecosystems and crop lands,” Sidange said.

“This fire season’s projection shows that the country is generally in the high (65,2%) to extreme risk (24,7%) to veldfire outbreaks, basically as a result of the good rainfall experienced in the 2020/21 season, as compared to the medium (43,3%) to high (23,1%) fire risk projected in 2020,”she said.

Sidange said celebrations of good harvests this year might be cut short by veld fires, adding that fire prevention measures needed to be put in place on time.

“Statutorily, the veld fire season in Zimbabwe stretches from July 31 to October 31 each year.  Ema has developed a fire risk prediction for 2021 using geo information system by combining two key elements of biomass,” she said.

Sidange said satellite images indicated high volumes of biomass on the ground, even in areas that traditionally had low biomass implying that when using biomass as a proxy for fuel load, the country would be vulnerable to veld fires.

Ema said all the country’s 10 provinces were at high risk.

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