Ha Noi, Vietnam — The Forest Protection Department will this year install an online TeraScan system showing maps of forest fire risk areas in cities and provinces throughout the country, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hua Duc Nhi.
The online system would help forest protection departments and foresters watch hotspots and take steps to control fires on time, said Nhi, at a conference to guide 2008s tasks on fire-fighting in forests, held in Ha Noi yesterday.
He said the TeraScan satellite imaging centre had come into use since early February this year.
Director of the Forest Protection Department Ha Cong Tuan said there were about 37,000 cases of violation of the Law on Forest Protection and Development, of which almost 1,000 violations caused fires in forests.
Tuan said forest watch teams had imposed fines on nearly 30,000 cases and confiscated material evidence worth more than VND223 billion (US$13.9 million).
About 4,250 ha of forests caught fire this year. Son La Province led with more than 1,000 ha of forest burnt, followed by Yen Bai with 701 ha, Lai Chau with 360 ha and Kon Tum with 250 ha.
A ministry survey showed that most forest fires were caused when people burnt off land for cultivation and illegally cut down trees. Most fires occurred in the northern mountain provinces and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) region.
This year the department held more than 300 training courses for fighting forest fires, with an attendance of 25,000 trainees.
Tuan said the Fire-Fighting Steering Committee would establish six inspection teams with representatives from the military forces, police and foresters to supervise and speed up work on preventing forest fires and manage cultivation work in seven key areas including Tay Nguyen, the north-western area, Thai Nguyen, Bac Kan and Lang Son.
“First of all, we will complete distribution of forest areas to ethnic minority households and hire them by the piece for forest protection soon in the Tay Nguyen provinces,” said Tuan.
“We will also fulfil some policies relevant to forest protection and development, especially those to push up participation by the society in the work,” he said.