Thailand — The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is aiming to cut forest fires in the North by 10% next year.
Theerapat Prayulasiddhi, deputy director-general of the department, said a rise in forest fires in the northern provinces is expected early next year, which could blanket the area in haze from the smoke. Mr Theerapat hopes the reduction target will help reduce the haze problem, which poses health risks and can affect air traffic.
The planned reduction would be based on this year’s statistics from the department’s Forest Fire Control Unit, which showed that more than 47,900 rai of land nationwide has been damaged by forest fires so far in 2012, he said .
That is a significant increase on the 2011 figure, which showed 25,000 rai of land had been affected.
The record high was in 1992, when 12.13 million rai of land was damaged in forest fires.
Mr Theerapat said the department has over 3,000 staff stationed at forest fire control units nationwide, particularly in the nine upper-northern provinces.
He added that the government had approved a budget of 67 million baht for the forest fire control operation.
At a department meeting yesterday, Mr Theerapat told his staff to work closely together to come up with new fire prevention methods next year. He said the department’s target would be difficult to achieve without such cooperation.
Mr Theerapat said the department’s annual budget for forest fire control would be cut if it failed to reduce the incidence of the fires.
He said the department forecasted that the farming season early next year would lead to many forest fires in the North.
“The department will work with local people so that they can arrange an appropriate time for their slash and burn agriculture,” he said.
“Moreover, the department’s staff will keep an eye on forest encroachment during the harvest season.”
GFMC editorial note: 1 rai corresponds to 0.16 ha
The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.