fire bragade 20-06-11.jpgThis year’s fire season started on a bad note with an estimated 100 000 hectares of land said to have been destroyed since the beginning of the fire season.

Despite the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management warning people to stop veldt fires, environmentalists estimate that over 100 000 hectares of land have so far been burnt.

In an interview with ZBC News, Environmental Management Agency Board Chairperson, Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki said the current figures are alarming and efforts should be made towards reduction and stoppage of veldt fires considering that they have left a trail of death and destruction.

“Its sad to not that so far we have lost such a big piece of land to veldt fires. It is time Zimbabweans take veldt fires so seriously,” said Professor Mpepereki.

Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister, Cde Francis Nhema said it is criminal to start fires indiscriminately, adding that farmers clearing land for the next cropping season are the major culprits.

He said this year environmental monitors have been identified for each ward and trained to ensure effective communication and prompt action in putting out fires when they breakout.

“Its unfortunate we have farmers who are careless when it comes to the use of fire. It is time they realise that heavy fines and penalties will be given to the culprits,” said Cde Nhema.

Despite the existence of environmental laws which carry prison term sentences, veldt fires continue to be a cause for concern.

The Forest Act of 1996 and the Environmental Management Act forbids people from burning vegetation and stipulates that in the event that one is found guilty in the court of law, the accused should be liable of either paying a fine or imprisonment.