HOW long can Zambia afford to carelessly burn the priceless organic blanket that protects soil and water, feeds plants, animals and insects and provides new growth?
When vast areas are burned such as in the national parks and forests as we witness year after year, many young grazers starve during the period until the new shoots come up, older animals usually have enough reserves to get them through this scorched earth period.
Annual plants that haven’t seeded yet by the early burn are likely to decline over time.
Perennials that haven’t completed storing their water and nutrients in the roots for the dry season eventually die. Insects that haven’t completed their egg and pupae cycle die off in vast numbers of early burn.
Young trees that have their leaves burned off fail to grow for the rest of the year until the rains come.
This is all clear to see for us non-scientists and farmers.
The early burning practice continues with no regular biodiversity inventory to show whether it’s working or not.
Is it based on belief or science? Farmers are confused with this dual policy – agriculture is saying don’t burn fields to conserve moisture, livestock is saying don’t burn grass in case animals go hungry, forestry is saying burn, wildlife is saying burn! Confusion reigns!