5. Institutional Framework and Capacity Development
Institutional development and strengthening are highly critical, and attention should be given to human resource development. Fire management must be implemented under the jurisdiction and responsibilities of all land owners involved, i.e. on lands managed by national and provincial governments, local communities, concession holders, timber companies, contractors, and private forestry enterprises. However, an institutional framework must ensure that the national fire policy will be implemented.
Fire management actions affect various sectors of the society, and fall within the responsibilities of a variety of government agencies and land users. Therefore, a national interagency structure must coordinate the various responsible agencies involved in order to maximize efficiency and to share fire management resources. Assistance through bilateral and international programs should be encouraged in order to enable the transfer of existing knowledge and advanced technologies where needed.
Recommended Action 12
Establish or strengthen structures at the national level which are responsible for preparing and implementing national fire policies. Additional governmental infrastructure should be established or strengthened to build up fire management capabilities at the provincial and local levels.
Develop or strengthen suitable mechanisms and structures at national, provincial, and local levels to provide for the establishment and coordination of rural fire brigade organizations, including volunteer fire brigades.
Develop operational plans in which the role of voluntary organizations, particularly non-governmental and women’s organizations, are defined and exercises conducted at intervals to strengthen procedures, and enhance preparedness.
The institutions responsible for fire management should promote cooperative agreements between rural communities, NGO’s, forest companies, and the relevant public institutions, as well as political authorities.
Nations and organizations with fire management expertise should offer advice in building institutional frameworks and capacities; to provide for technical assistance, materials, and support to countries lacking adequate infrastructure.
Fires may affect resources on the territories of neighboring countries; or may have transboundary effects, e.g., smoke pollution. Cooperative agreements between neighboring countries may help to solve transboundary fire problems; and allow for sharing of resources at regional scale.
Recommended Action 13
Establish bilateral and multilateral agreements on cooperation, and mutual assistance in fire management.
ITTO member countries should have mobile rural fire brigades in order to provide fire management support in situations that go beyond the capacity of the affected country. These brigades would, at the invitation of the affected country, enter that country and augment its fire fighting forces until the crisis passes.
Funding and Implementation
Large fires in the tropics may adversely affect global economies, environment, and biodiversity. Timber which is destroyed or degraded lowers the supply of available forest resources, and affects prices worldwide. Cost of management of these fires should logically be borne locally, nationally, and when appropriate, internationally. To prevent and combat these fires, appropriate institutional infrastructures and mechanisms should be supported from national resources and, if necessary, international cooperation and assistance could be considered.
Recommended Action 14
Implementation of a program to protect the forest against fires requires forest authorities to establish special units responsible for such a program at national, provincial, and local levels with adequate, financing, staff, skills, equipment, and operational procedures.
Cooperation and active involvement of local communities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the mass media must be promoted to ensure the implementation of an effective program.
To ensure preparedness, coordination, adequacy, and effectiveness of operational procedures, workshops, and exercises at various levels, should be organized at regular intervals involving all affected parties, including neighboring countries, as appropriate.
Relevant international and regional organizations should promote cooperative efforts to prevent and combat forest fires.
Donor countries should accord high priority in their development assistance programs to help developing tropical countries establish programs to protect forests against fires through financial assistance, provision of expertise, transfer of technology, and assistance in training.
Development banks should favorably consider providing assistance to developing tropical countries to protect forests against fires through the provision of grants or loans at concessionaire rates.
Multilateral facilities such as the GEF (Global Environmental Facility), UNDP (United Nations Development Program), the Common Fund for Commodities, and other relevant arrangements should create ‘windows’ to support activities related to the protection of tropical forests against fires.
International organizations such as the ITTO, FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program), UNDRO (United Nations Disaster Relief Organization), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and other relevant organizations, activities (e.g. IDNDR), and international initiatives and conventions should strengthen programs related to protection of the forests against fires. ITTO member countries should join others in supporting the development of international mechanisms to obtain prompt assistance to mitigate the consequences of wildfire disasters, upon request.
The CSD (United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development) should ensure that in the implementation of Agenda 21 for forests, due attention is given to forest fires in relation to arrangements that may be developed to harmonize and promote international efforts to protect the world’s forests. A UN-sponsored Global Fire Research and Management Facility, which includes a Global Vegetation Fire Information System, and the capabilities to provide support on request to any nation in fire management, should be considered by the CSD.
Donor countries and lending institutions should ensure that their project appraisal procedures include fire risk assessment; and where appropriate, adequate resources should be included in the project budget for fire protection.
Seek the cooperation of NGOs, women’s groups, and other voluntary organizations, to raise funds in support of programs to protect tropical forests against fire.
Projects and activities related to the protection of tropical forests against fire should merit support from the Bali Partnership Fund to be established under the ITTA (International Tropical Timber Agreement) of 1994.