Penalties for reckless charcoal burners

Charcoal producers who do not adhere to regulations aimed at preventing veld fires are tainting the reputation of everyone involved in the sector, says the Namibia Charcoal Association.

18 October 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Although only a minority of charcoal producers are not adhering to regulations, the Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) says penalties are needed for those not ignoring the rules.

The NCA says the harvesting permits of all charcoal producers who are not adhering to the relevant rules and regulations should be revoked.

This, the NCA says, should be the first step in an effort to prevent veld fires.

It emphasised that most veld fires in Namibia are not caused by the charcoal industry but by negligence and deliberate arson.

The NCA further said that no harvesting permit should be renewed for any farm that does not have firebreaks and firefighting equipment.

It said the forestry department is in the process of suspending permits for farms that are reported to them.

“If they find that charcoal is produced illegally, all equipment, wood and charcoal is confiscated and the charcoal producer is fined.”

The association urged individuals to report any such farms to the nearest forestry office, as well as to the NCA.

“The charcoal industry is in a very fragile state with the lack of containers to transport the charcoal, and veld fires pose a real threat to the industry as many people could potentially lose their income,” it warned.

The NCA said most of its members adhere to the correct procedures and it is a small minority that puts the whole industry at risk.

“It is now time for all farmers to stand together and talk to their neighbours to do the right thing and then report those farms to forestry to prevent more damage and loss of rangeland, infrastructure, animals and even human lives.”

Etosha fire contained

Meanwhile, the environment ministry confirmed on Thursday that the fire which started in the Etosha National Park earlier last week had been contained.

The fire started on a nearby farm and spready into the park on Monday and was burning west of Okaukuejo.

According to ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, the fire was only burning in the middle of the block (see photo) with no potential to spread further.

He said no wildlife mortalities had been observed.

Muyunda added that an assessment of the area was ongoing to ascertain the damage and the size of the area that burned.

The ministry said at the end of September that an estimated 487 732 hectares, which accounts for approximately 22% of Etosha, had been affected by veld fires this year.

At the beginning of this month, it was estimated that more than 2.6 million hectares of grazing had burned down on more than 660 farms since the start of the fire season in May. Many heads of livestock and wild animals were killed in the fires.

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