Stop wildfire and burning farm and timber tree farms in Kagera region, Tanzania now

  • by: Cyriacus Mababu
  • recipient: Government, Wildlife, Environmental, natural vegetation, agriculture agencies and all activists around the world

The bush and trees can be an unforgiving place and for the creatures that call it home no other time is harder than the dry season. "Survival of the fittest" is the motto of the bush and a number of animals perish during these harsh conditions. On the other hand, this fire catastrophe can still endanger land investments and destroy properties like farm trees and houses.

Recently, I was out on safari in my neighboring country, in western Uganda, when I got back home I found over 20 acres of land together with my 7 commercial pine tree farm set on fire. We could hardly rescue the situation. I had to stay calm holding my two year old daughter helplessly. That was my life saving and future investment.
The problem of wildfires in Tanzania is complex and should not be addressed on a sectorial level. It concerns all the aspects related to forest and land management, prevention, suppression, and post‐fire management. It is a problem of general policy, land policy and forest policy and legislation, as much as it is a problem of equipment and capacity building within any one sector. There are no official documented statistics on the fire problem. We always focus much on political issues rather than community wellbeing. When I asked the local leader who to be held accountable, they kept telling me he run away. I am now completely depressed really. My life investment is gone. My neighbors also are experiencing the same situation.
We really need more international voices to step up and voice your opinions over the matter. It is serious. Many people are losing their properties, investments, homes and even livestock. We have all leaders around but no actions have been taken against those who set fire. They are well known, some are pastoralists and some farmers.
In 2013 the world UN food and Agriculture organization (FAO) conducted a Fire Baseline for Tanzania on Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Climate. The main objective of this study was to elaborate "Tanzanian wildfire baseline information", as the starting point for a Fire Information System.
An average of 11 million hectares burn annually (ranging between 8.5 and 12.9 million hectares) in Tanzania. This corresponds to between nine and 14 % of Tanzania´s land area. Most burned area is recorded in the months from May to October, with the peak fire activity in July and August. Fires were detected throughout the year. There have been over 900,000 fires detected in Tanzania by satellite since November 2000 with the number of fires per year in Tanzania reasonably consistent. The information on impacts was not readily available and there is very little information able to be collected during the field work from 1960 to present. Overall information appears incomplete and it is highly likely it is and the data collected is probably indicative of the impacts only. The FAO added that the consistency of the numbers of fires and area burned may indicate a persistent set of ignition sources. This conforms to the identification that Tanzania has mainly rural population with high dependence on agriculture, forest and land use. The regions with high numbers of active fire pixels detected tend to also have high area burned recorded. Five regions; Rukwa, Mbeya,Tabora, Kigoma and Lindi average more than 1 million hectares per year average area burnt per year.
Kagera region, is one the leading local (Ankole & indigenous species cattle) raring region in East Africa. Most pastoralists under the protection of corrupt leaders were the major source of wildfire. Thanks to the current president who is trying to restore and reform new bills regarding protection wildlife, natural vegetation and biodiversity. Apart from his efforts, yet still some people don't seem to abide wildlife protection laws. Kagera region boarders Uganda in the north. In the west there is Kenya, and East Rwanda and Burundi.
However, the study said that the long term impact of frequent fires may result in negative changes in productivity and population structure of a species which is now obvious. Frequent fires reduce 2 woody plant densities, and can influence changes of floristic and structural composition by killing or suppressing individuals in the smaller diameter size classes. In other ecosystems fires are extremely destructive. The tropical rain forests are most vulnerable during extreme droughts such as those which repeatedly occur during El Niño years in 1998. During such extended dry spells the rainforest trees must protect themselves against the loss of water and shed their leaves. Consequently, the forest canopy becomes more open, sunlight penetrates down to the forest floor where the shed leaves become highly flammable.
The central government, NGOs, Local government together with international organizations, nature and environment activists must come together to fight against indecency over nature and environment. Whoever responsible must held accountable by getting life sentence. Corrupt leaders have to resign and have a minimum years in jail.

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