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Bushfire and forest fire

1. What does bush fire mean? And forest fire?

Bushfires are uncontrolled fires caused by:

  • Setting fire to vegetation covering agricultural soil,
  • Renewal of grassfires to obtain cattle pasture,
  • Making charcoal,
  • Carelessness: fires caused by smoking, shepherds' and zebu rustlers' camping fires.

Forest fires are caused by:

  • Slash-and-burn practices (also called "tavy") or by clearing practices,
  • Carelessness during forest beekeeping.

2. What are the damages caused by bushfires and forest fires?

  • Madagascar's endemic species - trees and other plants - are extinguished
  • Death of different animal species living in the forest
  • Burnt soil that might become unproductive in the coming years
  • Eroded soils for lack of trees to protect them
  • Silted rice fields caused by erosion
  • Dried up water sources
  • Climate change
  • Air pollution

3. What is the main objective?

The objective is for everyone to take responsibility to control fires and avoid these consequences.

4. What can I do to control fires?

  • Request authorization from local forest and environment officials before using fire for agricultural use,
  • Follow the advice and instructions provided by forest and environment officials,
  • Follow technical instructions provided by forest and environment departments regarding fire control to avoid destruction,
  • Help fight uncontrolled fires,
  • Use new agricultural techniques (development of plains and rice fields, using improved seed, pasture planting, use of modern cooking devices for charcoal producers, etc).

5. Who can help?


  • Civil society

For counseling

  • Forest and Environment ministeries,
  • Environmental partners: PGM-E/CT - GTZ, SAF-FJKM, CI, ANAE.

6. Which laws are important to know?

  • About clearing and vegetation fires:
    (Ordinance n° 60-127 dated October 3, 1960)

    • Slash-and-burn or clearing practices are forbidden inside national forest domains or "prohibited zones",
    • Lighting fires inside national forests or reforested areas is also prohibited,
    • Authorizations from forest and environment officials are needed.
  • About authorizing pasture fires:
    (Decree n°058 dated January 7, 1961)

    • Special authorizations for pasture fires are limited for the rainy season between January and March,
    • District leaders have the authority to
      • Investigate, control and suspend the authorizations,
      • Decide on the periods and the places where pasture fires are forbidden.
  • About the measures to pursue those who start wild fires:
    (Ordinance n°76-030 dated August 21, 1976)

    • Ordinance n°76-030 dated August 21, 1976
    • People who start bushfires are liable to forced labor for life or to 10 to 20 years of forced labor if 1 or 2 or 3 of the following occur:
      • Bushfire is set at night,
      • Use of weapon or violence (for instance village attacks by zebu rustlers who are using bushfire as part of their attack strategies),
      • Use of smoldering fires.
  • Use of terms and conditions on pastures:
    (Decree n°82-313)

    • The Rural Development Department drafts
      • An alternation schedule plan for the fires that is to be approved by the District's Executive Committee (the District defines in advance the lands to be given authorization for pasture fires; this plan organizes the fire schedules so as to alternate the lands to be burnt),
      • Term and conditions. It is approved by the President of the Province's Executive Committee and decided by the Districts (Fivondronana).
  • Limitations on the clearing practices and the vegetation fires:
    (Decree n°87-143)

    • Clearing practices need a prior authorization. The Chief of Fokontany checks the details of the request,
    • Each and everyone may ask for an authorization to use fire to renew the pasture.

7. What are the respective responsibilities of local officials?

  • Control and report: KASTI (Forest and Environment Committee) ,VNA (Forest Committee),
  • Animation : Forest and Environment officials, fokontany, KASTI,
  • Leadership during firefighting: fokontany, KASTI,
  • Research of the criminals: fokontany, KASTI,
  • Law enforcement: fokontany (through the community-based judicial system called dina), the Communes (through the dina), the law enforcement forces (laws).

8. What are each and everyone's duties and responsibilities?

  • The cattle-breeders: respect the provisions of the term and conditions provided by the forest and environment departments,
  • Farmers and charcoal producers: respect the recommended fire control measures.
  • Each citizen:
    • Avoid fire propagation,
    • Participate in firefighting efforts in case of wild fires of unknown origin,
    • Collaborate with officials in the enforcement of the dina and the law in force..