Vietnam officials warn of forest fires

Vietnam officials warn of forest fires

05 February 2014

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Vietnam — Local authorities must communicate better about forest fire prevention and fighting regulations to minimise practices that could cause forest fires during the dry season.

Deputy director of the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry Nguyen Ba Ngai also said that the maximum forest fires in Viet Nam usually happen during the dry season, normally between October and June. But this year’s dry season saw more complicated weather developments, Ngai said.

According to the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting, droughts were reported in many localities across the country, while strong cold spells in the northern provinces damaged plants. He added that these were favourable conditions for fires.

“Seeing the high risk of forest fires during the dry season, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has urged localities to strengthen fire prevention measures from early this month,” he stated.

Ngai added that relevant agencies, including the Forestry Protection Department and the National Steering Committee for Forest Protection and Development, were also asked to tighten inspections.

Last year, nearly 250 fires were reported from across the country, which destroyed 965 hectares of land. Most of the destroyed forest areas were in the Central Highland and south central regions, including 407 hectares in Gia Lai, 92 hectares in Binh Phuoc, 37 hectares in Lam Dong, 57 hectares in Ca Mau and 36 hectares in Ninh Thuan provinces.

“Last year, most of the fires were detected and controlled in time by forces including the army, police, forest guards and citizens joined hands to fight fires,” he said, adding that in 2012, nearly 490 reported fires destroyed over 1,300 hectares of land.

Cooperation between authorities, relevant agencies and people is important in preventing and fighting forest fires, said Ngai, while appreciating the experience of local citizens.

Head of Forest Protection Division in northern Ha Giang Province Hoang Ngoc Truong said that low awareness and carelessness of the people was a major cause of the forest fires that occurred in the locality.

Truong said that improving public awareness and involving them more in forest protection are crucial.

An official at Central Highland Dak Lak Province’s Ea Kar Station Nguyen Van Quang said that lack of staff and equipment posed difficulties in fighting illegal loggers or fires.

At present, each commune had only one forest guard, reiterating the need for cooperation with other forces.

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