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Veld fires destroy 17 000ha in Masvingo

Veld fires destroy 17 000ha in Masvingo

Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
More than 17 000 hectares of land was destroyed by veld fires in Masvingo in the 2017 fire season, a development that has sparked widespread concern over the rising scourge in the province. The fire season lasts from July 1 to October 31 every year. Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Masvingo provincial manager Mr Robson Mavondo said the province was susceptible to veld fires due to growth of vegetation following good rains recorded last season.

“The total area burnt in the province is 17 711,73 hectares compared to 7 495,14 hectares in 2016,” said Mr Mavondo.
“The period 2016-2017 has been characterised by significant amount of rainfall that was received throughout the province. The rainfall received contributed to the growth of large biomass,” he said. According to Mr Mavondo, the presence of biomass translates to high risk in fire-prone areas such as Chiredzi, Gutu and Masvingo.

“The 2017 fire prediction indicated that the fire season was generally at the high to extreme fire risk for the greater part of the province as compared to 2016. Last year’s fire season was in the medium to high risk. Due to high volume of biomass in 2017, Gutu, Chiredzi and Masvingo districts were the worst affected,” he said. EMA says Gutu was the worst affected by veld fires, which destroyed 6 925,5 hectares, followed by Chiredzi, which had 4 152, 05 hectares, Masvingo (3 089 hectares), Mwenezi (1 827,07 hectares), Bikita (639,51 hectares) and Chivi (271,52 hectares). Zaka district was, however, not affected.

“Major causes of veld fires were land preparation, arson and poaching. The most affected areas are wildlife conservancies, model A1 and A2 resettlement areas,” explained Mr Mavondo. In Gutu, he said, the most affected area is Ward 1, which has a very high concentration of resettled model A1 farmers, while in Chiredzi most veld fires were experienced in conservancies and the Gonarezhou National Park.

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