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THE increase in illegal mining activities is threatening the country’s infrastructure and environment, the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has said.

This was revealed in a recent environmental report which looked at the period July 31, 2021 to October 15, 2021.

Ema said during that period, illegal mining contributed to 42,81% towards veldfires, land clearing constituted 2,89% and arson 28,3%.

The environmental agency said 37,37% of the veldfires were recorded in Mashonaland West province, 13,60% in Mashonaland Central, 12,80% in Matabeleland North and 11,95% in Mashonaland East.

“The country remains in the high risk, 65,2% to extreme risk, and 24,7% to veldfire outbreaks. This is because of the good rainfall received in the 2020/21 season which supported the growth of biomass.

“A total of 263 veldfire incidents that burnt 61 982 12 hectares were reported in the week ending October 15, 2021.”

Ema said since the beginning of the veldfire season, 3 673 fire incidents which burnt 846 707 32 hectares of land were recorded.

“The cumulative burnt area translates to 55,88% increase compared to the same period in 2020 where 543 166 97 hectares were burnt from the recorded 944 veldfire incidents.

“The average area burnt from the 3 673 fire incidents, in 2021 is 230,52 hectares while in 2020 the average area burnt from 944 fire incident was 575,39 hectares. Average area burnt is affected by available biomass and the active participation of local communities in firefighting.”

Ema said veldfires destroyed agricultural produce, equipment, household property and plantations worth US$370 837 00, and killed five people.

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