BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO
A Bushfire Risk Management Plan (BRMNP) was launched last week at Lemepe lodge in Molepolole for the Kweneng District’s 2019 to 2023 bushfire seasons.
Handing over the plan at the launch to the District Commissioner, Bernice Bernate-Mosime, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Environment Ministry, Felix Monggae, said: “The purpose of the district bush fire management plan is to identify the level of risks across the district.”
“The harsh weather conditions have in the process increased fire outbreaks. The district experienced rare intense fire outbreaks lately in areas that in the past never experienced fires,” said Monggae.
The deputy permanent secretary highlighted that Botswana is forecasting high extreme fire season. Towards the end of the 2018/19 financial year, Botswana received normal to above normal rainfall in most parts of the country.
As such fuel load accumulation is expected to be relatively normal but would dry due to a heat wave.
The Kweneng District is one of the fire prone districts and has now developed a plan that will be a guiding tool for fire management to all land owners, communities and leaders. This is an integrated approach to prevention and suppression of fires with communities has served Botswana well in some districts and therefore that must be encouraged at all times.
Kgosi Kgari Sechele III of Bakwena said following the government’s selection of the New South Wales (NSW) fire services, a district plan was prepared for the Kweneng District Disaster Management Committee and fire stakeholders.
The district assigned a working team committee which comprised some representatives of major land management agencies namely the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR), the media, tribal administration, police, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO), farmers associations and the Kweneng Land Board representatives.
The district would therefore identify the level of bushfire risks across the district and establish strategies.
“The strategies established in the fire management plan would address the fire hazard, the vulnerability of assets to fire, the safety of the community and fire fighters, the protection of the land and environment from fires,” explained Sechele.
It is also meant to identify strategies that will be implemented to manage the bush fire risks identified and the land managers responsible for implementing the management plans.
Botswana like the rest of the world is experiencing harsh weather conditions lately due to global warming.
Large tracks of land, particularly in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) were indiscriminately burnt during the 2008 fire season.
Subsequently the government looked to outside assistance to help prevent, mitigate and suppress wildfires in Botswana.
Considerate of Botswana and Australia’s similar climates, the former chose the latter’s NSW Rural Fire Services from many submissions to assist Batswana by describing and demonstrating how wildfires are suppressed.
Bushfire risks and costs include causing damage to assets of value to communities-life and property; economic risks-buildings, livestock, crops and forests as well as environmental and cultural heritage.