MASVINGO – Veld fires in 2020 destroyed 10 000 hectares of forest in Masvingo Province alone, the Environment Management Agency (EMA) has said.
EMA Masvingo manager Milton Muusha said this to journalists during belated commemorations of the national fire week held at the organisation’s offices recently.
As part of the commemorations, journalists toured Kepure Fam near Roy and Cambel Farm near the Reformed Church University (RCZ) along Mashava Road.
Masvingo and Gutu districts are the hardest hit with 6 141ha and 3 277ha respectively destroyed by veld fires. Bikita is third with 608 ha, Mwenezi has 585 ha destroyed by veld fires. Zaka, Chivi and Chiredzi recorded a combined 245ha burnt.
The commemorations ran under the theme ‘Veld Fires and Food Security; Protect the Harvest’.
The veld fire season stretches from July 31 to October 31 annually and the most common causes of veld fires include smokers who toss their stubs to the ground, poachers who torch forests to trap wild animals and farmers clearing their fields.
About one million hectares was burnt from 2010-2020 and 60% was in A1 and A2 resettled farmers.
The 10 000ha destroyed by fire in 2020 is a significant decrease from 17 600ha burnt in 2019.
Muusha urged communities to put in place pre-veld fire suspension measures like fire guards, hay bailing, thatch grass harvesting and bee keeping in which the ecosystem has to be preserved ensuring that veld fires are controlled.