Fire management critical for conservancies

03 September 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



It is more critical than ever for communal conservancies to keep fires at bay this year, as they depend even more on local natural resources than before.

It has been a devastating year for conservancies that are largely dependent on tourism and trophy hunting for income.

According to a statement issued by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, global travel bans and quarantines have meant that conservancies are struggling to cover costs and maintain activities.

“Add the threat of wild and veldfires to the mix and 2020 could turn into a dramatic year for conservancies.”



Proactive approach

The foundation said because of careful fire management activities in conservancies over the last few years, the impact and damage caused has not been as great as it used to be.

“The conservancies and its people are to be highly commended for their proactive activities in battling fires and protecting the land, before fires have had a chance to burn.”

It said with the support of the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, the Nyae Nyae Conservancy has continued to manage the fuel build-up in the area during this year and reduce fires that have in the past destroyed villages, grazing and other natural resources.

“It is essential that the fire management programme is carried out. This year, when the community is even more dependent on their local resources such as devil's claw harvesting and other veld foods, local gardens and livestock, keeping devastating fires at bay is even more critical than ever.”



Initiative success

According to the foundation, the Nyae Nyae Conservancy has been managing fires for six years, and currently, approximately 10 to 20% of the conservancy area burns annually.

“This is still a sizeable amount, however, [it's] nothing compared to the highs of 40% to 50% that it was in 2010 to 2012, before the initiative was started.”

This fire management programme is geared to protect lives, resources and equip locals to fight fires.

“It is a great success and has a major impact on the lives of those in the conservancies. It is a credit to the conservancy that it focuses on these issues when there are so many new challenges facing them this year,” the foundation said.

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