The 2021 fire season has destroyed a total 408 366.7 hectares of land representing an 84.97% increase during the same period in 2020 when 220 778.79 hectares were burnt from the recorded 395 veld fire incidences.
The veld fire season which spans from the 31st of July to the 31st of October is a period when biomass is dry and windy, providing a conducive foundation for wild, uncontrolled and runaway fires which are destructive to the environment, life, property and agricultural produce.
In a statement, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) reported that the veld fires which have destroyed agricultural produce, equipment, household property and plantations worth US$ 187 167.00 were distributed as follows;
“Resettlements 61.82%, communal lands 7.13%, Forest 7.97%, Safari 7.88 %, Small scale farms 7.05 %, Model A and D 5.56%, National Parks 1.94%, Urban Area 0.26%, Recreational parks 0.12% and other land 0.26%.
“Significant losses were registered in Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Mashonaland East. Notably, the causes of the veld fires so far have been identified to be anthropogenic in nature specifically due to, land clearing (28.92%), arson (27.72%), illegal mining (27.72%), poor ash disposal (12.05%) and hunting (3.61%),” reads part of the statement.
Already, this veld fire season has claimed lives and most notably, the loss of two minor siblings aged three and six, and property which included five tonnes of maize, motorbike, teacher’s cottage and 50 chickens in Hurungwe district, Mashonaland Province. To date, three lives have been lost in veld fire-related incidences, including also a female adult aged 59 in Zvimba, again in Mashonaland West Province, which coincidentally remains the hard-hit province by veld fires.
During the same period in 2020, only one loss of life was recorded thus translating to a 300% percent increase in lives lost in 2021.