Veld fires destroy 2.5 million hectares

04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

A massive 2.5 million hectares of grazing has been destroyed by veld fires since the start of Namibia’s fire season in May this year, while nearly 500 000 hectares have burned in Etosha National Park.

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta told the National Assembly that this total included land on 604 farms and in many protected areas that have been affected by forest and veld fires.

It is estimated that approximately 635 animals have perished in fires outside protected areas.

Shifeta said the fires have resulted in the destruction of infrastructure and property, vast grazing areas and the loss of human and animal lives.

One of the regions particularly affected by veld fires was Khomas, where 93% of the Daan Viljoen National Park burned.

In the Ohangwena Region, about 10 500 hectares of grazing land burned from 17 to 19 September.

“Forest fires spread from the border with Kavango West and quickly into the eastern side of the Okongo quarantine area, destroying grazing camps.”

In the Omusati Region, an estimated 46 944 hectares burned in the constituencies of Okahao, Otamanzi and Tsandi from 15 to 20 September.

Meanwhile in the Oshana Region, an estimated 60 000 hectares of grassland in Uuvudhiya Constituency burned.

Shifeta said other severely affected regions included Hardap, specifically the Rehoboth District, Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi as well the Dordabis, Groot Aub and Oamites areas of Khomas.

In the Kunene Region, the Kamanjab, Outjo and Khorixas districts as well as a small portion of the Etosha National Park and farms to the south and east of the park suffered the impact of veld fires which also spread into the Otjozondjupa Region.

Etosha

Shifeta said the ministry in 2012 implemented a system of planned patch-mosaic burning and firebreaks in Etosha as a tool to support conservation.

“This involves the use of early burning and controlled burning of identified areas according to blocks for reduction of fuel load and to minimise hot fires spreading in the dry season.”

He said once a fire occurs inside a block, it is viewed as manageable because of the preventative measures in place through existing firebreaks.

An estimated 487 732 hectares, which accounts for approximately 22% of Etosha’s area, have been affected by forest and veld fires in 2021.

According to Shifeta this is an improvement compared to 60% of the total area burned in 2009 before the introduction of the patch-mosaic burning and firebreaks.

“In Etosha, it is notable that no mortalities of game nor injuries to humans and infrastructural damage have been recorded [this year],” said Shifeta.

Worse to come

The frequency, intensity and extent of veld fires were high because of the good rainfall received earlier in the year, which resulted in the accumulation of a high fuel load in many parts of the country.

“These occurrences are expected to become even more frequent and severe in the future in line with climate change predictions.”

The main causes of forest and veld fires have been charcoal production operations, mechanical appliances such as graders, recreational activities such as picnics, smokers, and local natural resource management-related activities such as hunting, honey production and thatch-grass harvesting.

Factors hampering effective fire prevention and control included locked farm gates, insufficient vehicles and equipment, lack of water sources in some areas and lack of cutlines and firebreaks in some areas.

[email protected]

Similar News

 

EIF reaccredited by Green Climate Fund

5 days ago - 18 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) has been reaccredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for a further five-year period.The initial five-year accreditation lapsed in...

Woman encourages others with eco-friendly products

5 days ago - 18 October 2021 | Environment

ESTER KAMATIWINDHOEKWilma Garises is a Swakopmund resident who turns trash into treasure by upcycling plastic into useable and unique bags.“My parents have always taught me...

Poaching, wildlife conflict connected

1 week ago - 15 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe connections between poaching and human-wildlife conflict in conservancies are a significant local conservation concern.Meanwhile, poaching is compromising the ability of local communities to...

N$92m injection against wildlife crime

1 week ago - 14 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKWhile recent statistics indicate that Namibia is winning the battle against both...

Mining should not be allowed to destroy water resources

1 week ago - 13 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKAgriculture minister Calle Schlettwein says mining activities that have the potential to destroy water resources through pollution or depletion should not be allowed.Schlettwein was...

Lions, hyenas poisoned in Kunene

1 week ago - 12 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKA man was arrested on Sunday after he confessed to poisoning...

US envoy for climate visits Namibia

2 weeks ago - 05 October 2021 | Environment

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKA United States delegation focused on climate change and clean energy last week met with Namibian government officials and civil society to encourage a...

Elephant poaching could skyrocket after Covid

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKOnce the world gets the Covid-19 pandemic under control, poaching of elephants could skyrocket again because of the accumulated demand for ivory in the...

Concerns stack up about uranium mining

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKProposed uranium mining activities near Leonardville have the potential of not only polluting drinking water, but also affecting the environment for at least 30...

Namibia wants to join Water Convention

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKNamibia intends to accede to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).This comes as more and...

Latest News

Heimstädt steering road safety

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHorst Heimstädt is the CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum, a private organisation which does extensive work in the Southern African Development Community...

FNB to strengthen its support...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUProparco, a private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group), granted a EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N$ 68 million to...

Learners don maize sacks for...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI Learners at Omuthiyagwiipundi Combined School in Omuthiya are forced to wear maize sacks each time they misbehave at...

Itula changed, says suspended Smith-Howard

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Politics

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKSuspended Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) Swakopmund constituency councillor Ciske Smith-Howard says her party leader, Dr Panduleni Itula, has become...

The face of the southern...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Michelline Nawatises Victoria Ndemupa Muhuura was born in Wavis Bay. She attended at Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School in the Oshana Region, and...

Zozo’s Leather: Your dream product

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Rivaldo Kavanga Celesty Cupido worked in the tourism industry and realised over the years that many Namibian accommodation establishments do not showcase or sell...

Rising like a phoenix

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Mariselle StofbergWilhelmine Mutorwa has used every opportunity she is given to become the best version of herself. For Wilhelmine Mutorwa, giving up has never been...

Africa calls for climate finance...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Economics

ALESSANDRA PRENTICEAfrican countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a US$100-billion annual target to help the...

EDITORIAL: We are guilty of...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Opinion

A lot needs to be discussed in our country – from race and sexual rights to abortion. The country can’t stop talking, even when such...

Load More