Charcoal production poses fire hazard

19 May 2021 | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK

While the production of charcoal offers an alternative source of income to farmers, it poses a high fire risk to the environment if it is not done responsibly and with the necessary care.

The Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO) last year proposed guidelines to the directorate of forestry to limit the risk of veld fires during the dry months.

The directorate accepted the proposal and the guidelines became legal regulations in the same year.

Under the new regulations, charcoal may only be produced by the cluster burning method in the dry season from 1 May to 31 December.

This means that kilns may only be burned in one central area in a camp and that a 15-metre radius around the group of kilns must be cleaned of any flammable material.

Enforcement

According to the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), the directorate of forestry must conduct inspections to make sure these measures are applied before issuing new harvesting permits.

“Unfortunately, these inspections often do not take place and permits are issued on request and on the basis of a statement that the standard has been complied with,” the union says.

The NAU says this means it becomes the responsibility of each and every one to report those who do not meet the requirements, in order to reduce the risk of fire and uphold the law.

“Negligence in the burning process can wipe out the adjacent farming activities, as well as take or damage the lives of those who are in the path of a veldfire.”

In addition to this danger, it also takes up precious time of the community and they risk their lives and infrastructure to get wildfires under control.

The LPO encourages its members to report any form of disregard of the regulations to the forestry directorate, or to the Namibia Charcoal Association, with photographic evidence if possible.

If neither of the above is accessible or responsive, regional crime forums can be approached.