Costa Rica — The areas of Costa Rica with the greatest incident of forest fires are located on the Pacific coast; specifically the cantons of Upala and Los Chiles in the region of north Huetar.
Plus an increment has been seen, in recent years, of fire incidents in the Central Valley, which year to year will become more frequent and will have greater severity due to this type of phenomena, combined with the effects that are already evident as product of the climatic change.
In response to these facts, more than twenty brigades of forest firemen in the voluntary, private enterprise and governmental institutions categories, plus foreing brigades, will meet from the 14th to the 17th of January, 2010 at the campuses of the National Technical University (UTN), and the Escuela Centroamericana de Ganadería (ECAG) located in Balsa of Atenas, Alajuela, for the III Forest Brigades Mobilization Exercise.
This activity is organized by the National System of Areas of Conservation (SINAC) of the Department of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) and by the institutions that make up the National Commission of forest fires (CONIFOR), and made possible with the support of International Cooperation Agencies such as the Program for Small Donations (PPD-FMAM) and the Office of Assistance for Disasters abroad of the Government of the United States (USAID/OFDA-LAC), plus the support of private companies.
These brigades will demonstrate their self-sufficiency during three days. They will exchange work experiences; show their best abilities in the use and management of hand tools and equipment for the control and liquidation of forest fires, plus partake in physical aptitude test and teamwork.
“This forest brigades mobilization exercise, will be of great importance for it aims to determine our country´s capacity and coordination to respond to a possible forest fire of large magnitudes. Furthermore, in regards to the organizational aspect of the exercise, it will be a new challenge to be able to coordinate all the activity using the Incidents Command System (SCI), this exercise will help to test out its implementation”, indicated Luis Diego Román Madriz, coordinator of the National Fire Management program.
During the 2009 fire season, Costa Rica presented a decrease in the number of hectares affected by the fires; showing a reduction of 9619 hectares (during the 2008 season 23,416 hectares were damaged while 13,797 hectares were damaged in 2009) in regards to the areas damaged by fires, in comparison with the same period during 2008, it is fitting to emphasize that this is the smallest quantity of hectares affected by fire since the first decade of the 21st century.
Costa Rica is actively preparing itself at an inter institutional level to face a new season of forest fires. The National Commission of forest fires (CONIFOR) is carrying out coordination activities and efforts to execute integrated actions of fire management.
It is fitting to highlight that there has been an observable lack of precipitation this winter period, caused by the phenomenon of the El Niño, that is affecting the country, specifically the Pacific coast regions are the most impacted by this. As a result our country could encounter this summer an active and prolonged forest fire season, which will put at risk our natural resources, their diverse ecosystems, wild fauna, and our populations, amongst others.