Sep 19, 2014, 9:28 AM
One of our reporters who just returned from up country came across bush fires or its impact, in almost all the provincial regions of the country: from Kantora in Upper River Region to Fulladu in Central River, Kiang in Lower River, and Foni in Western Region.
In some instances bush fires came within just a hundred or less metres of forestry offices and forest parks.
The results of bush fires are devastating and many, and it is the cattle owners who no doubt bear much of the brunt.
Cattle owners find it extremely difficult to feed their animals as a result of bush fires. But at another level of the country, bush fires burn down trees and the undergrowth and cause conditions for deforestation and drought, and imbalance in our eco-system. The environment becomes adversely affected and deteriorates.
Bush fires are caused in various ways. Cigarette smokers who deliberately and recklessly throw cigarette butts are the cause of some of our bushfires. Some fires are caused by honey collectors who use the method of smoking the beehives to send away the bees. When they fail to monitor or control the fire, it spreads to start bush fires. At times the fires are caused by campers including herdsmen on night watch. These sometimes leave the fires without putting them out properly, and this ends in bush fires. Farmers also cause maybe most of bush fires by their early burning method ahead of the planting season. These fires are mostly wide-scale and easily get out of control, rage over vast areas of the bush before they can be stopped. There are also those who hunt for little animals especially rodents. They light fires around with the hope of capturing the animals. They invariably leave the fires burning as they leave the bush, thereby causing bush fires.
The department of forestry should sensitize communities on the dangers of bush fires. This can be done through radio and TV programmes, workshops and community outreach programmes.
The department should also intensify its efforts to patrol the bush particularly the forest parks.
Very stiff laws should be passed and local authorities such as chiefs should also prosecute offenders of this terrible act to deter people from burning the bush.
Communities should not also wait for fire fighters to put bush fires off. Rather, they should also mobilize their people to take action even before the arrival of fire fighters.
This way the destruction and damage from bush fires can be drastically reduced if not eliminated.