06 Jun 2013 06:00
RUNDU, 6 JUN (NAMPA) - The veld fire experienced in early April this year which engulfed many hectares of land in the Khaudum National Park and some parts of the Katere village east of Rundu was a ?controlled burning?, and not deliberately caused as was suspected.
The exact size of the area destroyed by fire in the two places has not yet been established.
The veld fire prompted Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa to issue a stern warning against any irresponsible acts which may result in an outbreak of veld fires anywhere in Namibia, as such acts will be regarded as criminal offences, and those responsible would be prosecuted and legally punished.
Anyone found to have caused a veld fire can be fined up to N.dollars 4 000.
Veld fires destroy already scarce grazing land, and have negative impacts on the livestock sector.
The Chief Forester for the north-eastern regions of Kavango and Caprivi, Michael Otsub told Nampa on Thursday that investigations into that veld fire revealed that it was a ?controlled burning?, aimed at improving grazing land for wild animals and reinvigorating the habitat.
Otsub explained that officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as neighbouring conservancies started the veld fire, which was also aimed at minimising the risk of deliberate veld fires from spreading.
They have now dispatched about 50 officials to the Khaudum National Park and the Muduva Nyangana Conservancy to start ?controlled fires? in those areas.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Forestry will this month start training a number of community members from the Kavango Region?s nine constituencies as fire-fighters to help control veld fires in the region.
The directorate earlier expressed concern that veld fires started very early this year in April, and the situation is exacerbated by the drought conditions currently experienced throughout the country.
The drought has necessitated the employment of fire-fighters to protect grazing land and other forest resources.
Otsub stated that the first fire-fighters? training will take place from 23 to 25 June at the Rupara village in the Kahenge Constituency.
Ten people per constituency will be employed to serve as fire-fighters during the veld fire season, which stretches from July to December.
The chief forester said the fire-fighting crew members will be paid by Government, with N.dollars 4 million already set aside for their remuneration.
The local fire-fighters will be equipped with knapsack sprayers, drip torches, fire bombs as well as protective clothing, while fire trucks and skilled personnel from the directorate will also assist them.
Otsub was of the opinion that most veld fires in the region are caused by human activity, more specifically by people who go hunting; by the clearing of fields; camping; as well as the harvesting of thatch grass.
In 2012, 69,2 million hectares of land across the country went up in flames due to uncontrolled and controlled veld fires.