Farmers cautioned against veld fires

Pretoria - The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has cautioned farmers and land users to be active in the prevention of veld fires in the winter season.

“Veld fires bring much devastation to communities in terms of loss of livelihood, livestock, infrastructure and human lives. Everyone must be wise when dealing with open fires and when operating machinery. The dryness of the vegetation coupled with the effect of winds creates perfect conditions for runaway veld fires,” said the department on Wednesday.

In the winter months, veld fires present a serious threat to the agricultural sector.

“Farmers are urged to take note of risk-reduction measures by ensuring that fire equipment is, at all times, easily accessible and in good condition,” noted the department.

South Africa, which has large grasslands, savannah and forests, is particularly fire prone as all the elements for the ignition for a fire are there.

The National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998 (Act No.101 of 1998) provides a statutory obligation on all landowners to develop firebreaks and places an onus on landowners to be prepared and equipped to fight a fire and to take all reasonable steps to stop the spread of fire.

Chapter 2 of the Act regulates the establishment, registration, duties and functioning of fire protection associations (FPAs). 

The associations must deal with all aspects of veld fires, such as the prevention and fire fighting, where farmers can play an active role in managing and planning of fire management as a collective, with co-ownership of the risk management process. 

“It has been noted that since the promulgation of the Act, a concerted effort has been made by private landowners to comply with the Act. For this, they must be congratulated. However, all farmers are encouraged, especially in areas where veld fires are almost a yearly occurrence, to participate fully in the FPAs,” said the department. –