Charcoal precautions bearing fruit

Fewer veld fires caused by charcoal burning

28 July 2021 | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK

The special measures implemented since last year to reduce the risk of veld fires caused by the charcoal industry are beginning to bear fruit.

The Namibia Agriculture Union says in its latest newsletter that this information was shared by Michael Degé, manager of the Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) office in Otjiwarongo.

According to the union, although veld fires still occur daily around the country, fewer of these fires originate from charcoal production.

These measures, which came into effect on 1 May 2021, stipulate that cluster burning of kilns is compulsory during the dry season.

Cluster burning means that at least three to four charcoal burners group their kilns together in one area surrounded by a cleared area 15 metres wide.

Clearing means that the grass must be cut off to the ground and not necessarily shovelled completely clean, as that could stimulate erosion. Clearing is mostly done using pangas.

Supervision

A producer can have several such groups of kilns in one camp. The main purpose of these groupings of kilns are that there should be permanent supervision while the kilns are burning.

The measures stresses that the most important principle is to manage and control the area where charcoal is being burned.

This can only be done if charcoal workers are grouped in an area and burn the wood together. It also adds that supervision is of utmost importance and that no kiln can be left unattended.

Cases where violators of these measures were reported to the NCA office were addressed without delay by forestry officials, says the union.

Offenders who pose a fire risk in this regard can be reported to the NCA office with photographic evidence wherever possible.

Meanwhile, it is noted that many farmers have not yet cleaned their boundary fences this year and an urgent appeal is made to all landowners to get their fire breaks alongside farm boundaries in order.

“Without this clearing, firefighting would be difficult to manage,” says the NAU.