‘Managing veld fires must be community-driven’

10 Jul, 2018 - 00:07 0 Views

The Herald

Manicaland Correspondent
MANAGING veld fires is complex and requires a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach, including local communities, as they are the occupiers and users of land, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said. Speaking on the sidelines of a community training workshop on fire management at Forest Industries Training Centre (FITC) in Mutare recently, FAO forests project coordinator Mr Maxwell Phiri said it was essential to engage the local community in coming up with fire management strategies and guidelines, as communities were the first to come in contact with such disasters before the other stakeholders come on board.

“Veld fires cannot completely be eliminated, but efforts can be made to reduce the breakout or impact of such and this can only be achieved through a multi-sectoral approach to fire management,” he said.

“The first tier of stakeholders being the local community – the ones that are affected the most and are in constant contact with fires.

“We have engaged farmers and villagers from wards 11, 18 and 20 in Mutasa district, a region, which is endowed with timber forests and prone to fires on a yearly basis. We also took note of the presence of traditional leaders from these target areas to assist in the formulation of fire committees and the coming up with firefighting guidelines that are easy to understand and comprehensible by the local community.”

Manicaland Forestry Commission acting provincial forest extension manager Mr Aaron Chinofunga said it was their mandate to protect trees and the environment, with fire management being one of the essential protection measures.
This requires a holistic multi-sectoral approach taking into account the role of traditional leadership to reduce the scourge of veld fires in timber forestry areas, he noted.

“Communities can be defined by their way of living and leadership structures among other things,” he said. “If every group plays their part in fighting veld fires, we can reduce the adverse impacts of the fire scourge.
“Through the workshop we are trying to foster environmental stewardship in the local community and special note has been taken to include traditional leaders in such initiatives.

“Traditional and local leaders being the custodians of our natural resources are encouraged to foster the cultural aspect of fire management by spearheading the crafting and leading the fire management process, before, during and after an outbreak.”

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