ITTO Guidelines on Fire Management in Tropical Forests: 3. Strategies


ITTO Guidelines on Fire Management in Tropical Forests

3. Strategies

Fire Management Planning

Principle 3

A fire management plan is an essential component for the prevention, suppression, and management of fire within forests and adjacent lands. Fire management plans must be part of an overall land-use (e.g. forestry) management plan. Planning should be on a cooperative basis on national, regional, provincial, and local levels as appropriate.

Recommended Action 3

  1. Provide adequate resources for fire management planning at different levels of fire activity.

  2. Develop fire management plans which include a clear statement of objectives; and incorporate information on land tenure, assets threatened, degree of fire risk, fire history, and fire management measures.

  3. Promote the active participation of concession holders, timber companies, contractors, local communities, and all other voluntary organizations, particularly non-governmental and women’s groups. Their participation needs to be based on their abilities which could be enhanced through training in fire management; and on providing appropriate equipment and incentives whenever feasible.


Fire Management Options

Principle 4

The selection and application of fire management options depend upon the conditions and circumstances found at the national, provincial, and local levels which may include, inter alia:

  • Forest types and management activities,
  • Risk and sources of fire,
  • Access and terrain,
  • Fire management capabilities,
  • Climatic conditions,
  • Adjoining land uses, and
  • Socio-economic factors.

Recommended Action 4

  1. Select and develop the appropriate fire management option which takes into account local circumstances and conditions.

  2. An integrated fire management program should be developed which may include some or all of the following fire management measures:

  • Community participation in fire protection,
  • Fire prevention (e.g. fire breaks, fuel breaks, and fuel management),
  • Fire pre-suppression (e.g. collection of fire intelligence, weather and fire danger forecasts, detection and early warning and reporting systems, fuel assessment, equipment, communications, water supplies, and training of fire fighters, etc.),
  • Prescribed burning (e.g. fuel reduction, slash burning, etc.),
  • Fire suppression,
  • Law enforcement and incentive systems,
  • Training, extension and public awareness programs, and
  • A compost processing policy for agricultural waste or residues from other operations carried out near forest areas.

Principle 5

Fire detection and early warning systems are essential for the rapid and effective control of wildfires. A wide range of fire detection options exists, including look-out towers, surveillance aircraft, ground patrols, satellites, and information provided by the general public.

Recommended Action 5

  1. Explore and seek access to all potential sources of information and communication of early fire detection.

  2. Develop a system of early and rapid dispatch to fires, including assessment of likely routes of travel to determine impediments.


Fire Suppression

Principle 6

Typical fire situations in many tropical vegetation types can be successfully controlled and managed by experienced ground crews of fire-fighters. The success of ground crews depends upon local fire organization, on the availability of adequately designed hand tools, and the provision of basic training in fire suppression and fire fighter’s safety. Fire fighting equipment is available in developed countries and may be adaptable to tropical forest conditions.

Recommended Action 6

  1. Encourage the formation of volunteer fire fighting brigades from local communities and forest users.

  2. Provide local brigades with well-constructed fire fighting tools and basic equipment.

  3. Provide training on fire fighting techniques and tactics to brigade leaders and fire crews; introducing technologies to enable fire organizations to combat forest fires. Such provisions may be possible through support from forest management organizations.

Principle 7

National level emergencies can occur involving numerous large fires due to changing climatic conditions, which exceed local and provincial capabilities. Disasters may be avoided if sufficient action is taken at an early stage.

Recommended Action 7

  1. A national fire fighting contingency plan which involves relevant government agencies, other organizations, and local communities should be set up to deal with large scale emergencies. This plan should outline the responsibilities of the various parties involved to prevent duplication of efforts and to optimize human and financial resources. Consideration should be given to the recruitment of international support where appropriate. Arrangements on financial components must be agreed to well before emergencies arise.


Role of Communities in Fire Protection

Principle 8

The majority of tropical forest fires and other wildland fires are caused by the activities of the rural population. An efficient fire prevention strategy therefore requires an initial understanding of the cultural and socio-economic background of the tropical fire scene. The fire prevention program relies heavily on a positive relationship between the rural community and the forest-fire manager. Mutual confidence and public support can be created by participatory approaches.

Recommended Action 8

  1. Employ or encourage participation of rural residents in fire prevention work, such as establishment and maintenance of fire breaks and other fuel treatments.

  2. Encourage integration of agriculture and grazing land-use into fuel break systems through incentive mechanisms (e.g. through cost-free leasing of fuel break lands). Where burning is used as a form of pasture health management, incorporate techniques to minimize risk of escaped fires.

  3. Stimulate community cooperation in fire prevention through various incentive measures such as provision of funding popular initiatives for villages which have succeeded in preventing the spread of wildfires into adjoining forest lands. For example, systems to supply potable water are often lacking in some remote areas; and installation priorities are often uncertain. A community which demonstrates major reduction in harmful fires could be rewarded by having its system installed more quickly.




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