Veldfires a real danger
The environment ministry is enforcing precautionary measures to prevent charcoal burners from starting veldfires.
19 August 2020 | Agriculture
With the above-average rainfall received countrywide during the 2019/20 rainy season, resulting in increased grass and herbaceous biomass, these conditions will exacerbate the danger of veldfires during the upcoming dry, hot season.
According to the environment ministry, there is always a danger where charcoal is produced.
It is against this background that the ministry is enforcing precautionary measures during the veldfire high season, including that no individual charcoal burners, scattered on farms, will be allowed.
There must be clustered burner systems applied on each farm to reduce veldfire outbreaks, with immediate effect until the end of December.
Charcoal production should be done under the following measures:
Cluster all kilns at a designated facility or central burning places per camp of charcoal production on a farm;
Charcoal producing farms should be surrounded by 15 metres of firebreaks at the border right after the end of the rainy season;
An area of at least a five-metre radius must be cleared of grass around an active cluster of burners (central burning place);
Regular training should be provided for charcoal burners on fire prevention and control (suppression), especially in the dry season;
Open fires are only permitted in a cluster of burners (central burning places) at the site camp and campfires must be extinguished when workers go to bed, or leave the camp;
No combustible materials (cigarette butts, matches or any other burning object) may be thrown into the veld;
Where kilns are lit, they must be in constant supervision by a delegated person;
Firefighting equipment, including beaters, drip torches, knapsack (backpack) sprayers must be accessible at central burning places in the dry season;
Beaters/knapsack sprayers must be deployed immediately when a fire starts;
A fire vehicle must be available on each farm with water supply and a high-pressure pump to deal with uncontrolled fires; and
If a fire starts, the farm owner/manager should be notified immediately.
Forestry officials may inspect any charcoal production farm to verify whether these procedures are in place.
The ministry further urges charcoal burners to fully comply. Not implementing these guidelines will lead to an immediate withdrawal of harvesting and marketing permits.