Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
THE Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has warned people against starting uncontrolled fires amid revelations that the Midlands Province lost about 250 000 hectares of land to veld fires in the past two years.
EMA Midlands provincial spokesperson Mr Oswald Ndlovu said veld fires were rampant in resettlement areas.
Mr Ndlovu said veld fires have triggered major challenges in as far as environmental management and sustainability is concerned.
“Veld fires are more rampant in newly resettled smallholder farms. They have wreaked havoc on the environment especially in A1 and A2 farms. In the Midlands province a total of 114 035.04 hectares were burnt in 2018. This translates to a 0.26 % reduction from the 2017 burnt area which was 126 652.68 hectares,” he said.
“Opening up new arable land using fire, deliberate lighting of fires for hunting purposes, lighting fires along road servitudes while waiting for transport, gold panning, children playing with fire, careless throwing away of cigarette stubs and improper ash disposal are some of the human activities that result in veld fires. These factors have resulted in veld fires of varied magnitude whose effect on the environment is dire.”
He said veld fires have resulted in the destruction of flora and fauna, air pollution, vegetation destruction, loss of wildlife and denuded soil resulting in increased rates of erosion.
Mr Ndlovu urged farmers to engage in projects such as bee-keeping, hay baling and thatch grass harvesting to generate income and reduce veld fires. “Hay baling and grass combing projects help in reducing biomass while at the same time deriving financial benefits. In 2018, a total of 368 001 bales were made countrywide with an estimated value of $552 001. In the Midlands province, a total of 67 770 bales with an estimated value of $101 550 were produced,” he said.
“In 2018, thatch grass harvesting at community level was done throughout the country as a way of biomass reduction while improving livelihoods. A total of 434 842 bundles were made protecting approximately 87 184.3 hectares of land.”