Guatemala — Each year, during the dry season in Guatemala, from November to May, many hectares of forest and jungle are lost to wildfires. The worst months are from January to May when the land is very dry. Some fires get started because the farmers burn the field to clean the land in preparation for the new seeding season. These fires can get out of control, especially when wind conditions are unpredictable. In Guatemala, the name for the fires that the farmers use to clean their land is called: “la rosa”, the rose.
All the national parks in Guatemala face this danger every year. Recently, in the National Park of Tikal, a prevention and control plan against wildfires was launched. The event was attended by representatives of CONAP (National Council on Protected Areas), SIPECIF (National System for Prevention and Control of Forest Fires), USAC-CECON, CONRED (National Commission for Disaster Reduction), PNC-DISETUR (National Police and Tourist Services Department), First Infantry Military Brigade “Luis García León” and the deputy mayors of the 7 communities surrounding Tikal.
Jaime Escobar, of the forest science unit, provided the background information regarding the history of fighting forest fires in Tikal. Jaime Escobar stated: “The efforts in Tikal have been successful in the past and they are used as a model for other national parks and protected areas in Guatemala.”
Subsequently Armando Guillen Moro, manager of Tikal, presented the plan to Peten-SIPECIF (National System for Prevention and Control of Forest Fires), representative, Joshua Perez. Guillen stated: “We hope our efforts will provide the expected results and we will have less problems with forest fires. We thank the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Directorate General of Cultural and Natural Heritage for having approved the plan for its implementation.”
Joshua Perez from SIPECIF (National System for Prevention and Control of Forest Fires), stated: “Tikal National Park Authorities have always been careful in planning for wildfire control, this is the first plan that SIPECIF (National System for Prevention and Control of Forest Fires) receives in the department of Peten.”
Approximately 30 park rangers and workers form the Tikal National Park received training in basic techniques of prevention and control of wildfires.