Fire concerns rage through southern national parks

Fire concerns rage through southern national parks

9 April 2008

published by VietNamNet

Viet Nam — Thousands of hectares of forest in the southern provinces of Dong Thap, An Giang, Kien Giang and Ca Mau are now at dangerous and extremely dangerous risk of fire. Forest protection agencies and management boards of national parks are at high vigilance.

At U Minh Ha National Park, thousands of hectares of forest have been exhausted of water for a long time. Under fierce sunbeams, fires can break out anytime in this forest. Fire concerns, therefore, are currently high in the national park.

Nguyen Ham Chau, an official of the Forest Protection Agency who is assigned to supervise anti-fire tasks in U Minh Ha National Park during the dry season, said: “The forest protection forces are now at high alert. We have been here for nearly three weeks with sufficient equipment.”

The director of the national park, Nguyen Van The, directly checked all 21 fire supervision stations set up along the 50km boundary of the park on Sunday. He said the 8,527ha national park has up to 6,500ha at extremely dangerous risk of fire so the forest protection team of nearly 200 members has been in the park for the whole week.

The director said if a fire occurred the consequences would be immeasurable. In near-by communes of Tran Hoi, Khanh An, Khanh Lam and Khanh Binh Tay Bac, local authorities have set up a reserve force of 4,000 people in case fires occur.

In another national park, U Minh Thuong, many areas are out of water. The park’s Director Nguyen Van Huong said U Minh Thuong is a huge peat area so it would be terrible if a fire happened. The management board, thus, has also been at high alert.

All national parks have closed their doors to tourists but they still worry about fires caused by local residents who get into the parks to catch fish and get honey. Most forest fires in Ca Mau, Kien Giang and Dong Thap in the past were caused by people going into the forest for these reasons.

According to Director of U Minh Ha National Park Nguyen Van The, around 4,000 households are living in the buffer zone and many of them live on fish and honey from the park. The park’s guards can’t completely control the whole area and deal with these people.

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