Shanghai, China — The country’s law enforcement agencies solved nearly 3,000 cases of arson and fire accidents in forests as well as 6,000 forest-fire cases involving governments last year.
More than 10,000 people were involved in the cases, said Du Yongsheng, director of the forest ranger bureau under the State Forestry Administration, yesterday.
Most cases were caused by illegal use of fire within or at the edge of forests, he said.
A forest fire that broke out last Saturday in southwestern Guizhou Province was ignited by a village woman in her 80s burning straw. It was put out the next day after destroying more than 40 hectares of forest.
Du also revealed that last year, forest rangers recorded more than 13,000 criminal cases, involving 18,000 suspects and more than 400 million yuan (US$50 million).
“The destruction of forests and illegal logging and exploitation of forest resources have also been rampant, leaving a heavy burden for forest rangers,” said Du.
Rangers broke up more than 400 criminal gangs in forestry-related crimes last year.
A total of 455 cases involving wildlife were investigated and the police seized 40,492 wild animals and detained 736 suspects.
The forest ranger team needed to expand to better protect forest and wildlife and maintain public security in forest areas, Du said.
“China currently employs just 60,000 forest rangers in about 6,700 forest ranger stations, which is insufficient as the country’s forest area is increasing by one percentage point each year,” he said.
The rangers are responsible for dealing with criminal cases and public security violations in the forest regions.
More than 180 forest rangers were injured and 52 died on duty from 2001 to 2005, according to SFA.
Du also warned of the increased risk of forest fires and called for more control efforts in autumn and winter.
Most parts of China had entered the autumn-winter season when forest fires were more likely, said Du. Weather forecasts showed most regions would suffer higher than average temperatures and less rainfall this autumn and winter, increasing risks.