Fire management is an integral part of sustainable forest management, which in turn should be based on appropriate land use planning, taking into account the views of all concerned parties.
Recommended Action 19
Integrate fire management considerations into forest management planning. For example, when making forest inventories, it is important to include information on the quantities of fuel, (dead tree, branches, litter), with a view to assessing the danger of fire.
Incorporate fire protection measures into forest concession contracts.
Include provisions for protection of the forest against fire when implementing silvicultural management practices.
Fire risk may be reduced by practicing increased forest diversity, particularly in plantations, in terms of species, age, and structure; as well as through preventative silvicultural techniques. Reducing fire occurrence lowers the forest=ðs vulnerability to degradation from insects and disease.
Recommended Action 20
Consider the possibility of underplanting or intermixing the main canopy with suitable species of low flammability which are native to the area and already field tested.
Give priority to rehabilitation measures of fire damaged forests.
Savannas and grasslands are important tropical ecosystems, often interrelated with forest lands. Fire usually plays an important role in these ecosystems, and must be adequately managed in order to maintain the ecosystems and avoid damage to the nearby forests.
Recommended Action 21
Determine the appropriate fire regimes of the savannas and grasslands near forest areas, and develop fire management plans to address the requirements for sustaining those ecosystems.
Consider using prescribed fire and/or other techniques to prevent damage from free propagating wildfires in those ecosystems.
Instruct residents living within or near those ecosystems, which require periodic fire for their survival, on the proper use of fire, including adequate firing techniques.
Large forest areas are managed for timber production. Logging operations involve various activities including: the construction of infrastructure or facilities such as roads, camps, workshops, fuel storage, etc., the use of heavy equipment such as tractors, earth-moving equipment, skidders, trucks, vehicles, power saws, etc.. Workers have frequent access into forest areas, often throughout the year. These factors, combined with careless and poor equipment maintenance, or improper use, can increase fire risks.
Recommended Action 22
Logging operations and the use of all equipment and machinery must be strictly controlled, and clearly specified in concession agreements to reduce fire risks. Spark arresters should be used to prevent fires starting from chainsaws and other machinery. The handling, use and storage of gasoline must be strictly controlled with clear instructions; and placed under the responsibility of a designated person.
Concession holders, timber companies, and contractors should be encouraged to conduct special campaigns at regular intervals on fire hazards to promote greater consciousness and more responsible attitudes.
Specific guidelines must be developed for implementation during periods of extreme dry weather or high fire risk. Such measures may include total or partial restrictions on logging. It may be necessary to restrict access to forest areas to that required for logging operations in accordance with management plans and harvesting activities; including transport of logs to processing plants.
Concession agreements should specify the role and responsibility of the concession holder in cases of fire outbreaks, including participation in suppression action, and sharing the costs of rehabilitation of fire-damaged forests.
Concession holders, timber companies, and contractors should provide appropriate training for their employees, and develop operational procedures in fire prevention and suppression to promptly handle fire outbreaks during logging operations.
Concession agreements should require that concessionaires’ crews and equipment be available for use in fire control activities.
Logging operations may result in accumulation of biomass, invasion by weed species, and desiccation of organic soil matter, all of which can increase fire risks. The careless use of fire during timber harvesting operations has resulted in large wildfires. These fires cause significant economic losses to governments who are often left with the responsibility for rehabilitating fire damaged forests.
Recommended Action 23
Plan logging operations to avoid creating large openings, which result in the drying of the forest floor, and invasion of fire prone pioneer species. Allow for techniques, (such as climber cutting), which minimize damage to surrounding trees.
Logging wastes should be minimized through a system of incentives and penalties that apply to concession holders and contractors. Where appropriate, encourage the use of logging residues by local communities, so long as this activity does not increase the risk of fire starts.
Laws, regulations, or codes of practice that apply to forest operators should be formulated and enforced; and if necessary, contractual arrangements modified to promote responsible fire protection by concession holders and contractors.
Penalties should be levied against concessionaires to recover losses of forest values and recoup costs for rehabilitation of fire damaged forests due to negligence.
Other Forest Uses
Communities living in and around forest areas have long-established traditions to hunt, to fish, and to collect food, medicinal plants, and other products from forest areas. Conversion of forests for other land uses, and population pressures, have increased the intensity of such uses by these communities, resulting in greater fire risks. Also, fire risks are greatly increased in forest areas through recreational and sporting activities.
Recommended Action 24
Concession holders, timber companies, and contractors should provide assistance to organize and provide support to local communities; encouraging their active participation in forest fire prevention programs.
Some forest based activities of local communities involve the use of fire. Such activities should be regulated through measures which reduce the risk of wildfire starts from these activities.
Conflicts and misunderstanding between local communities and forest concession workers must be avoided through regular dialogues, and respect for local traditions and sensitivities. The welfare and well-being of local communities must always be considered by concession holders, timber companies, and contractors for any employment opportunities or facilities which become available.
Assist communities in their efforts to enhance respect for traditional values and customs which have historically preserved natural resources.
During periods of extreme fire danger, access to forests for recreational pursuits should be strictly controlled. Camping should be restricted to certain sites where facilities such as stoves should be provided. Elsewhere, the use of fires for cooking should be prohibited.
Patrols should be undertaken in areas frequented by people to ensure compliance with rules and regulations in force. Such patrols should be more intensive during periods of high fire risks or during holiday seasons.