VELD FIRE DESTROYED 12OK HECTARS OF LAND

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Veld fires destroyed more than 120 000 hectares of land in the Midlands province last year between July and October during the fire season, an Environmental Management Agency (EMA) official has said.

EMA provincial publicity officer, Simon Musasiwa said most of the veld fires were caused by poachers and people who clear land for agricultural purposes.

“The Midlands province lost 126 000 hectares of land to veld fires, which is 2,6% of the province’s total land,” Musasiwa said yesterday.

“The main causes of veld fires in the province have been seen to be human activities such as poaching, arson, land clearance and illegal mining operations.”

Musasiwa said the province was at a high risk of veld fires due to the abundance of inflammable material in the form of dense grass.

He warned people in the province to desist from starting open fires during this year’s fire season.

The fire season starts from July 31 to October 31 when the first rains are expected.

Musasiwa said EMA this year ordered farmers to construct 600 fire guards as part of strategies to prevent the spread of veld fires during the fire season.

“In addition to that, 45 000 hectares of land has been protected through biomass reduction projects with apiculture (beekeeping) projects still to be implemented in the high risk areas of the province,” he said.

He also said the province has held 110 fire awareness meetings, 40 school talk shows and four radio programmes on veld fires.

According to EMA, over one million hectares of vegetation is lost every year to veld fires.

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