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University of Johannesburg (2017)

An assessment of wildfire trends, hazard zones, perceptions, preparedness and modelling in Mazowe, Zimbabwe

Maponga, Robert

Titre : An assessment of wildfire trends, hazard zones, perceptions, preparedness and modelling in Mazowe, Zimbabwe

Auteur : Maponga, Robert

Université de soutenance : University of Johannesburg

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Management 2017

The use of fire is an integral part of local communities as they clear the land for agriculture, destroy pests, clear brush for improving pasture and hunting. Most of the fires escape control and become a major annual threat to livelihoods, property and human lives in Mazowe and other parts of Zimbabwe. The Environmental Management Agency introduced fireguards, hay bailing, fire teams, awareness campaigns and penalties as measures to prevent or control the wildfires, however, their prevalence in districts of high agricultural potential such as Mazowe, has remained a major problem. The study assessed wildfire trends, hazards, stakeholder perceptions, preparedness and modelled burnt area in Mazowe. Satellite imagery and surveys were used to collect data for this study. Landsat 7 and 8, 30m resolution imagery, MODIS fire data and in-situ meteorological data were used to determine emerging fire trends, hazard zones and predict the occurrence of wildfires and area burnt in interwoven multiple tenure systems which are Institutions and Private under freehold, Communal managed under use rights and A1 and A2 under resettlement permits in Zimbabwe. The systems had different fire management practices among the interwoven systems contributing to different fire scenarios from one system to another in the same district. Social surveys based on questionnaires, interview schedules and focus group discussions were carried out to determine stakeholder perceptions and preparedness to prevent and control wildfires in Mazowe, Zimbabwe. Wildfires in the district show an increasing trend across tenure systems from 2001 to 2010 when there was a drop and fluctuation thereafter following fire management measures that were introduced in 2009. The trends revealed that fire frequency and burnt area were higher in A2, Institutions and Private that had semiautonomous fire management systems while lower among A1 and Communal tenure systems that had institutional leadership as part of fire management. Complex relationships among number of fires, area burnt and weather variables within and across tenure systems were identified. The results did not show any clear influence of weather variables – temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction on fire frequency or burnt area. About 50% of the study area, Mazowe district, was delineated as ‘high hazard’ zones as confirmed by fire events that occurred in the district. The hazard zones revealed that the level of fire risk in terms of pasture lost per livestock unit was high across tenure systems. Using Cronbach’s alpha to determine scales of perception, the study revealed a strong positive correlation between stakeholder number of cattle owned, thatched huts, maize crop grown and willingness to participate in wildfire prevention and control. The stakeholders perceived wildfires as predominantly a result of human activity which could be controlled, however, they were not ready to tackle the wildfire problem at the time of the study. Responses from participants showed low level of adoption of fire equipment, communication mechanisms, control measures and preparedness to tackle the fire challenge among A1, A2, Communal and government departments while Private and Institutions systems indicated a higher percentage of adoption both equipment and measures. The study revealed that wildfires would continue affecting the study area unless measures were taken to contain currents trends. It was concluded that wildfires were responsive to intervention ; the delineated hazard zones needed monitoring and attention to contain the fires ; stakeholders perceived the fires as undesirable and could be engaged in containing them and that the fires could continue to affect the local communities until an all-inclusive approach was adopted to deal with the fires and that the high probability of occurrence of fire events called for action.


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Page publiée le 12 février 2019