NAU awaits proposed fire regulations

16 September 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) is hopeful that a new draft Forest Act and Regulations will be approved by the Cabinet soon.

It includes draft fire regulations proposed by the NAU based on the fire regulations of South Africa to declare commercial and communal land fire hazard areas.

According to the union, the current Forest Act of Namibia only regulates state forests and stipulates measures for preventing and combating forest fires.

“According to section 39 of the Forest Act, the forestry minister, Pohamba Shifeta, can on request declare any piece of land outside state forests a Fire Hazard Area and approve certain measures for preventing and combatting veldfires in such area.”

The union said if these proposed fire regulations are approved by the minister, certain very important measures necessary to successfully prevent and combat veldfires will be legally binding.

These include compulsory firebreaks on the borders of all farms, and that the lighting of fires without reasonable measures to prevent them from getting out of control will be an offence.

For controlled fires, all owners of adjoining land must be informed well in advance and persons combating veldfires will have the right to enter any land to take whatever measures are deemed necessary in order to distinguish the fire or prevent the spreading thereof.

The regulations also include that negligent causing of veldfires will be an offence, and the guilty person will be liable to pay compensation to any person who suffers damage as a result thereof.

The union said Namibians need to realise that fire is a natural phenomenon.

It said that according to various studies, fire is needed to revive land and to ensure that a savannah remains a savannah.

“Some plants actually require heat to spread their seeds,” says the union.

It said that nonetheless, uncontrolled fire is most of the time destructive for the commercial agricultural sector.

Casualties

From May to September this year, 99 veld fires occurred in the country.

The forestry ministry said 580 480 hectares were burnt, while one person died and four others were severely injured in these fires.

In the Omusati Region, 21 goats and sheep burnt to death and two cattle posts were destroyed, while in Khomas 25 farms burnt and 491 livestock and game were killed, one human life was lost and four severely injured.

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