United Nations — A United Nations agency today urged countries to investmore in fire preparedness and prevention.
Countries need to enhance collaboration, share their knowledge andincreasingly target people, who are the main cause of fires, throughawareness-raising and education, said Peter Holmgren, FAOs Chief of theForest Resources Development Service, in a news release.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAOpresented a global strategy to enhance international cooperation in firemanagement to a meeting earlier this month in Spain of some 1,500 fire expertsand planners from more than 80 countries.
The strategy includes a global assessment of fire management detailingincidence and impacts in all regions, a review of international cooperation, andthe voluntary guidelines in fire management.
In the year 2000 alone, an estimated 350 million hectares of forests andwoodlands were destroyed by fire, with sub-Saharan Africa and Australasiaaccounting for 80 per cent of the total area burned, according to FAO.
The agency acknowledged that fire is an important and widely used tool inagriculture and in maintaining ecosystems, but warned that wildfires, which arefrequently the result of negligence or arson, destroy millions of hectares offorests and woodlands, resulting in loss of human and animal life and immenseeconomic damage.