Fire Strategies Bear Fruit

| May 27, 2015

The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama says his ministry has deployed strategies that have reduced veldt fires during the 201415 fire season.

He said the area burnt has been reduced to about three million hectares from 15 million hectares in 2011.

Speaking at the fourth three-day National Fire Management Conference in Gaborone on Tuesday May 26, minister Khama said the achievement came as a result of efforts towards building capacity at all levels including communities to understand fire dynamics.

He said an integrated approach of prevention and suppression has served the country well, and that the efforts have facilitated them to move towards investigative aspects of fire management and the development of risk management plans.

Mr Khama said as Botswana was moving towards the last phase of the collaborative programme with Australia, it was intending to position itself as a centre of excellence in fire management that would be able to export knowledge and skills to the SADC region.

He said his ministry was in the process of aising government on its wish to establish a stand-alone entity to operate at the level of the Natural Rural Fire Services of Australia. He added that it would be in recognition of the importance of fire management in the country and the need to protect the ecosystem, human lives and property.

The minister said the presence of some SADC member states in the conference could not over emphasise the importance of cross border fires which were a concern that needs to be addressed by all affected neighbouring countries.

He said it has been forecasted that the 201516 fire season was going to be bad because during the 201415 season the country experienced below normal rains in most parts of the country with extended periods of dry spells. He added that the fuel load accumulated was relatively dry.

Mr Khama also added that the fourth National Fire Management Conference was important as it marks the last phase of their collaboration with Australia’s New South Wales Rural Fire Services (NSW RFS). He noted that the objective was to share experiences and lessons learnt at national and regional levels on fire management.

He said it was also held in the same year as the sixth International Wild Land Fire Conference which would be held in Korea in October, adding that meetings of such nature provide a forum for fire management leaders, policy makers, professionals, researchers and practitioners to discuss critical fire issues affecting communities, resources and ecosystems.

The minister also noted that such conferences enable cooperation in the development of national and global wild land fire management strategies.

For his part, the commissioner of NSW RFS, Mr Shane Fitzsimons commended Batswana for their commitment in dealing with wild fires. He said the 3 000 people trained by the Australian team would spread their knowledge and skills across the country to make the country fire free.

Mr Fitzsimons said wild fires were destructive to property and lead to loss of lives, both to people and animals. He urged those that did not get the training to learn from those who have learnt fire management.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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