Fire season: Stop veld fires, charcoal harvesting

07 Jun, 2024 - 19:06 0 Views
Fire season: Stop veld fires, charcoal harvesting National trees ambassador Mr Never Bonde

The ManicaPost


Tinashe Mlambo
Post Reporter

AS the fire season begins, communities in Manicaland have been challenged to guard against the twin evils of veld fires and illegal charcoal harvesting as these activities result in vast tracts of forests being destroyed, leading to the loss of biodiversity, human and animal lives and property.

National trees ambassador Mr Never Bonde warned against these ecological dangers, saying reckless burning of forests is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases.

Mr Bonde said the winter season coincides with the illegal harvesting of charcoal, whose traders are already making brisk business in towns at the expense of the province’s forests as low income earners have turned to the product to substitute electricity and liquefied gas.

While charcoal is locally available and is by far the cheapest option for household usage, it has a dark side as it is produced from wood, and its increased usage leads to the accelerated depletion of forest cover thereby causing soil degradation through soil erosion.

Charcoal made from hard wood variety is most preferred and fetches a higher price on the market as it does not break easily and has a higher energy content.

Lots of indigenous trees like musharu, musasa, mutondo, muunze and mupfuti have been reduced to stumps after being cut down to produce charcoal.

“We are in winter, and people opt for cheaper heating alternatives like firewood and charcoal to warm their homes. While this seems cost-effective, it poses a serious threat to forests, human health and life. Burning firewood and charcoal releases toxic fumes that can lead to respiratory problems, lung damage and even death,” he said.

Mr Bonde called on the public to desist from starting veld fires, saying deforestation also results climate change.

“We are now in the fire season, and I implore the people of Manicaland to desist from both burning forests and indiscriminate cutting down of trees; particularly musasa, mupfuti, mutondo, muunze and musharu species, which are being over-harvested for firewood and charcoal. These trees are a precious resource and are our lifeline.

“The reckless cutting down of these trees not only harms the environment, but also has severe consequences on our ecosystem. Trees are a vital source of wildlife food, provide shade, prevent soil erosion and produce the oxygen we breathe. People should explore alternative energy sources and shun charcoal and prevent veld fires,” said Mr Bonde.

Mr Bonde said fireguards must be constructed before the fire season, and anyone who will be found without a standard one will be penalised.

Standard fireguards are at least 9m wide on boundaries, and internal fire-guards should be at least 4,5m wide. Fireguards stop the fire by reducing the fuel load, and can be constructed by ploughing using ox-drawn ploughs, tractors, disking or hoeing.

Mr Bonde also urged farmers to remove tobacco stalks from their fields.

The farmers have up to next Monday to comply with the statutory directive or risk prosecution.

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