Indonesia — There had been series of forest fires spread along the dry zone of the country during the last month. Reports indicate that over 400 hectares of forest have been destroyed due to forest fires. However, authorities have not yet been able to apprehend the culprits, given that the officials are aware that most forest fires reported are caused by human activities.
If proved guilty of destroying/damaging forests belonging to the state, such offenders can be given a sentence up to five years and or a fine up to Rs.500,000, said Conservator General of Forests, Anura Sathurusinghe. However, he expressed the fact that though they are willing to take legal action against the culprits from tip offs, it has been quite difficult to detect such offenders.
When The Nation contacted the Police Media Spokesperson, SSP Ajith Rohana regarding the issue, he stated There had been eight cases reported so far to the Police who had deliberately set fire to sanctuaries and other protected areas.
Sathurusinghe also stated the fact that this year there has been an increase in forest fires like never before due to arid weather conditions. We have observed that dry zone is more prone to such fires since fire spread fast with the high wind which are common in such areas. he said.
According to Sathurusinghe, districts such as Moneragala, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Badulla and drier parts of Ratnapura are been identified as prone to forest fires. Awareness among people as to the consequences of forest fires is the best remedy to prevent destruction of forests.