This has been an important activity since the project start date and during the monitoring period under review there have been a total of 87 combined firefighting training workshops and awareness meetings conducted. There are 62 recorded community firefighting teams and they have all been supported with and assortment of firefighting equipment including knapsack sprayers, sickles, hoes and shovels. A total of 89 community based fire guards covering a distance of approximately 1,200 km has been recorded mostly in the Hurungwe district, which has historically been viewed nationally as an area very susceptible to wild fires. In addition to this, CGA has also repaired and maintained approximately 1,700 km of bush roads from 2014 to 2016 across the project area, which assist as fireguards.
It was also along these same roads for approximately 1,250 km where early burning (controlled fire burns) was carried out and it was estimated by our OGM that the reduction of fire occurrence was approximately 30%. This was estimated by comparing previous years in the same areas where ordinarily the entire areas would have been burnt compared with the witnessed unburned areas particularly in 2015, which saw an improvement in number of fire incidences as compared to 2014. This positive impact is further supported by the increase in visual numbers of small tree seedlings, which have been seen to survive in some areas. It is mostly these small seedlings, which are burned during the late season hot fires. This was further evidenced by the biomass sampling team headed by CGA staff member Rob Lee who recorded young growth in and around some of the PSP’s (permanent sampling plots). Any fire damage or lack thereof including observations of increase young tree growth is also recorded on the PSP data sheets.
Photo 1. Early burning and road maintenance in the project area
This protection of habitat together with good anti-poaching has also seen an increase in numbers of wildlife particularly in the Nyaminyami district.
A breakdown of the fire management activity per district during the monitoring period from February 2014 to June 2016 is as follows;
- Binga – 15 Firefighting committees, 14 training workshops/meetings, 10 village fire guards, approximately 350 km of roads maintained and approximately 250 km of early burning done.
- Hurungwe – 15 Firefighting committees, 14 training workshops/meetings, 63 village fire guards extending an approximate total distance of 1,129 km around communities, approximately 530 km of roads maintained and approximately 404 km of early burning done.
- Mbire – 16 Firefighting committees, 24 training workshops/meetings, approximately 594 km of roads maintained, approximately 424 km of early burning done.
- Nyaminyami – 16 Firefighting committees, 35 training workshops/meetings, 16 village fire guards, approximately 594 km of roads maintained, approximately 429 km of early burning done.
The project aims to continue enhancing this activity through continued road maintenance and early burning, continued fire awareness and firefighting training.