Negligence blamed for wildfires in Namibia

Negligence blamed for wildfires in Namibia
Widespread wildfires have destroyed about 170 000ha of veld across Namibia. Photo: NAU
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At least half of the recent wildfires that have been destroying thousands of hectares of grazing in Namibia have been caused by negligence, according to Piet Gous, Namibian Agricultural Union president.

During the past few weeks roughly 240 000ha have been devastated by wildfires in the country.

Gous said it was tragic that such vast areas of valuable grazing were destroyed while the country’s agricultural sector still found itself in a recovery process after the past few years’ drought.

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The single largest fire occurred in the Seringkop area where approximately 100 000ha was destroyed, this was followed by Dordabis (37 000ha), Ugab, east of Outjo (25 000ha), and 20 000ha in the Erindi area.

The value of lost production was estimated to amount to about R5 million, while large numbers of livestock and game were also lost and extensive damage to infrastructure had been reported.

“A considerable number of the fires originated from irresponsible and non-compliant charcoal production, especially on resettlement farms. We have legislation in place to prevent fires emanating from the charcoal industry.

“However, the state has to a large extent failed to monitor the industry efficiently, and NAU will address the matter as soon as possible with the relevant authorities. It is also vital that the government act on illegal charcoal producers not officially registered as legally required,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

According to Gous, many countries in Southern and Central Africa had been severely affected by veld fires this winter.

This, he said, could be ascribed to the high fuel-load in the vegetation, following the good summer rainfall.

At the time of publishing, large wildfires had been reported in South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, and Botswana, among other countries.

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