Central Highlands provinces strive to prevent wildfires in dry season

The forests in the Central Highlands are at a high risk of fire when entering the dry season. To prevent wildfires, forest owners have been rushing to carry out vegetation clearing, patrol, and guard.
Vegetation clearing to prevent wildfires. (Photo: SGGP)

Vegetation clearing to prevent wildfires. (Photo: SGGP)

Rushing to prevent wildfires

The Central Highlands currently has about 2.5 million hectares of forest. Over the past time, drought and hot weather prolonged for a long time, causing many local forests to face the risk of fire. On both sides of the road from Se San 3A Bridge to Ya Tang Commune in Sa Thay District of Kon Tum Province are the remaining natural forest areas with many large trees. Shrubs and vines under the forest canopy are dried, and the thick layer of vegetation is not cleared, so there is a high risk of fire.

According to the Forest Protection Department of Kon Tum Province, the area of forest at risk of fire is more than 232,800ha; of which, there is more than 31,500ha in Sa Thay District, and the rest is in Kon Tum City, Kon Ray, Dak Glei, Tu Mo Rong, Dak Ha, Kon Plong, Dak To, Ngoc Hoi, and Ia Hdrai districts. Through inspection of the fire prevention work at the plantation forests, some forest management units were discovered to have not implemented vegetation clearing yet. In addition, forest owners only have a few fire-fighting equipment and tools. If a wildfire occurs, it will be difficult for them to handle it promptly. Some forest owners even have not equipped a system of signs of fire danger, cattle grazing, and land clearing bans to warn local people about forest protection and forest fire prevention.

Meanwhile, wildfire prevention has been carried out drastically in Chu Yang Sin National Park in Krong Bong District of Dak Lak Province. Officials are on duty 24/24 hours, regularly rotating patrols to prevent forest fire incidents. Mr. Loc Xuan Nghia, Director of Chu Yang Sin National Park, said that the national park has more than 6,000 hectares of coniferous forest located in the core zone and borders the arable land of thousands of farming households, so there is a high risk of wildfire.

“During the dry season, people often clear the fields and use fire to cook, so it is easy to catch and spread fire to the forest. We have established wildfire prevention teams and built firebreaks. At the same time, we requested all households living in the vicinity of the forest to sign a commitment to forest protection, instructed them how to use fire safely, not affecting the forest, and how to handle situations when a wildfire occurs,” Nghia said.

In Yok Don National Park in Buon Don District of Dak Lak Province, the dipterocarp forests have begun to lose their leaves in this season, so dry leaves and shrubs lie in layers, which is easy to catch fire. Mr. Nguyen Huu Tao, Deputy Head of the Yok Don National Park Forest Protection Department, said that the unit had sent staff to clear vegetation to prevent forest fires.

Handling violations strictly

Not only forest owners but all levels and sectors have also made efforts to prevent wildfires. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Hung, Director of the Forest Protection Department of Dak Lak Province, noted that the province has more than 514,900ha of forest. In the dry season of 2022, the unit has implemented the plan of the provincial People's Committee on forest protection and forest fire prevention to its affiliated units, forest owners, and localities. It has requested forest owners to actively develop and deploy fire prevention plans. Forest rangers must regularly inspect to promptly remind, correct, and handle units that neglect forest fire prevention.

"Currently, the unit has been advising the provincial People's Committee to develop a wildfire prevention plan for 2023, which emphasizes the responsibilities of forest owners," shared Mr. Nguyen Quoc Hung. Similarly, Mr. Vo Sy Chung, Director of the Forest Protection Department of Kon Tum Province, said that to prevent forest fires, shortly, the unit would continue to ask districts and cities to urgently urge the clearing of combustible materials and propose to supplement the prohibition signs of fire, deforestation, cattle grazing, and agricultural production activities in key areas where forest fires are likely to occur.

According to the People's Committee of Gia Lai Province, the weather is forecast to be complicated in this year's dry season, with a high potential risk of wildfire. The provincial People's Committee has requested the district-level People's Committee to direct the functional forces to mobilize and guide people to comply with regulations on fire prevention; strictly manage the burning and clearing of fields, preventing the fire from spreading into the forest; prepare forces, vehicles, equipment, and tools ready to participate in fire-fighting when a wildfire occurs; request the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to direct the Forest Protection Department and forest owners to guide farmers in handling vegetation in agricultural production; arrange a force on duty 24/24 hours during the dry season. "The Chairman of People's Committees of districts, towns, and cities and forest owners are responsible to the provincial People's Committee if forest fires occur in the area," noted the People's Committee of Gia Lai Province.

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