This research project was undertaken to examine the economic effect of fires to commercial exotic forestry in Zimbabwe. Charter Estate of Border Timbers Limited (BTL) was used as a case study, and the area of its plantations damaged by fire between 2008 and 2009 were established together with the cost implications of each of these threats. Secondary data from BTL records and primary data gathered through structured questionnaires and informal interviews were used to determine the relative significance of each of the fires. The results indicate that forest fires were responsible for the largest damage and loss arising from natural factors and their main cause was illegal settlers occupying the estate’s plantations, honey harvesting, cigarette butts discarded, and sawmill ash and undetermined causes. Thirty six fires were experienced in these two years. They amounted to a total of over 4232 ha of trees destroyed and a total of over $ 50,326,428 in income lost. The 1-10 year old trees that were damaged caused an income loss of $14,499,804. The 11 – 20 year old trees damaged amounted to $2,352,324, and 21-30 years old trees saw an income loss of $23,474,300 in the two years under study. The cost of labour and equipment to fight these fires cost Charter Estate a total of $65430. Ninety seven per cent of the fires were caused by illegal settlers in the Estate during the harvesting of honey or discarded still smoldering cigarette butts.
Prof. Dr. Bilal BİLGİN