By Wezi Tjaronda
Concerned with forest fires that destroy forest resources every year, authorities in the Kavango Region want traditional leaders to pass by-laws that restrict people from burning the environment.
Veldt fires are a dominant feature in the region especially in summer when hectares upon hectares of forest resources are burnt down. There are fears that if this is left unattended, national parks will be destroyed and development could be hampered.
Crafts and thatching grass from forests provide an income to members of the conservancies.
Ndiyona constituency councillor Sebatsian Karupu raised this issue last week during the official launch of the Khaudum National Park and the signing of a tourism concession agreement between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Gciriku Traditional Authority and George Mukoya and Muduva Nyangana conservancies.
Gciriku TA Kasian Siyambi said veldt fires had increased over the year and also called for laws to protect the forests. He said in the past, all people in a community would go to extinguish a fire once it broke out, unlike now when “nobody goes there anymore”.
He wondered where people would get grass and trees if the forests were left to burn.
“This place is technically a desert because people are burning and cutting down trees,” he said, adding that this would affect the rainfall patterns in the region.
“Rain goes together with forests. Let us not burn. Let us change,” the chief added.
He urged his subjects to follow the footprints of the culprits and bring them to book.
According to the Community Forests in North Eastern Namibia (CEFNEN) website, fire remains a major threat to the conservation of forest resources. It said seasonally occurring bushfires frequently damage the vegetation of almost whole regions and cause losses of many valuable resources.
“The reduction of bushfires is considered an issue of national importance,” said the CEFEN.
Forest fires are common in Kavango, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Caprivi regions.