Costa Rica The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) reported that so far this 2017 there have been 25 forest fires in Protected Wildlife Areas.
The most affected area has been the Central Pacific Region, where five fires affected 144 hectares.
In general Guanacaste is the province that presents more forest fires during the summer time which extends through the middle of May.
According to the National Fire Management Program of SINAC, 100% of the fires are caused by humans, whether it is by negligence or by intentional acts of arson. 42% where due to vandalism and hunting, 39% obeyed to slash-and-burn agricultural practices, and the remaining due to other activities.
During 2016, there were a total of 114 fires registered (69 within protected areas and 45 in private properties), and Santa Cruz in Guanacaste was the county that suffered the most, with a total of 11,755 hectares burnt in total. Other counties affected in Guanacaste were: Liberia, Nicoya, Carillo, La Cruz and Bagaces. The total number of burnt hectares in 2016 was of 56,139; 15,789 hectares more than in 2015.
Since mid-January SINAC implemented a Permanent Alert System, which allows early detection of fires through daily monitoring and the use of satellite images, as well as permanent land surveillance. With these prevention systems in place they expect this year to present less forest fires than 2015 and 2016.
Firefighters and the environmental authorities ask the population to avoid the use of fire even in urban areas, burning of garbage or grass many times end up causing uncontrolled fires that affect close-by properties and endanger wildlife and even human lives.
Wildland fires have a huge environmental cost, but their attention also comes with a large price tag; according to SINAC controlling forest fires represent over 50 million colones a year, (over $89 thousand dollars).