Thailand — The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is preparing to combat widespread forest fires this year in the North and Northeast, where dry weather means there is a lot of dry udergrowth and tinder ready for the slightest spark.
Department chief Sunan Arunnoparat said his staff reported a rapidly accumulating amount of dry leaves, branches and undergrowth in the forests.
The fire threat had encompassed 5.42 per cent of dry Dipterocarp forest in the fiscal year 2009 and was up to 19.22 per cent this fiscal year.
The similar figure applied to other types of forest in the country, including mixed deciduous forest and savanna.
We have already prepared for extreme danger from forest fires this year.
“We dont know whether it will be worse than last year, but we are preparing to minimise the impact as much as possible.
“Our staff is well trained for fire control, and we will launching a PR campaign on stop people lighting fires near forests, said he.
The department’s survey had identified 4,650 hotspots between October last year and Feb 3.
Most were in agricultural areas with 3,524 hotspots (75.78%), followed by 963 hotspots (20.71% in) in preserved forests and 163 (3.51%) hotspots in conservation forest zones.
The North tops the danger list.
Between October last year and Feb 3 there had been 127 forest fires which damaged 2,343 rai of forest, he said.