FARMERS have been urged to start preparing for the fire season through biomass harvesting, fire guard construction and mobilisation of firefighting teams in order to reduce the destruction being caused by veld fires each year.

The fire season stretches from July 31 to October 31 each year. In last year’s season property worth $5,2 million was destroyed nationwide by veld fires and four fire related deaths were recorded.

A total of 1 158 291.57 hectares was burnt by veld fires from 1 508 incidents by the 31st of October 2019, while in 2018 during the same period, a total of 1 190 174.89 hectares was burnt from 1 595 fire incidents.

This translates to 2.6 percent decrease in area burnt and 5.4 decrease in fire incidents in the 2019 fire season.

Speaking on Friday during a press conference to mark the World Environment Day commemorations and national clean up exercise, Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Abednico Ncube said there was need for various stakeholders to utilise digital platforms to raise public awareness on veld fire management, land management and proper mining procedures in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“It is sad to note that last year in Matabeleland South Province 8 500 hectares of land was lost to veld fires. Coupled with continued droughts veld fires have led to the loss of rich grass in the province.

“This has in turn threatened the viability of our cattle rearing capacities. Furthermore, these veld fires have destroyed the tree species of this region leading to new species that are not beneficial to us.

“I therefore call upon all property owners in the province to start preparing for the fire season through biomass harvesting, fireguard construction and the mobilisation of firefighting teams. With the prevailing coronavirus outbreak let’s use digital means of communication to raise public awareness on veld fire management, land management and proper mining procedures,” he said.

Cde Ncube said the demand for food and resources was driving deforestation, changing patterns of land use and destroying natural habitats across the globe. He said acidification, pollution and other unsustainable land management practices had caused degradation to the country’s topsoil.

Cde Ncube said there was need for communities to take heed of events such as the World Environment Day to deliver on their commitments to safeguard nature, end pollution and upholding environmental laws.

He also urged various stakeholders to continue cleaning their surroundings in the face of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s World Environment Day was held under the theme “Time for nature- let’s conserve it”[email protected]