HCM CITY – Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have stepped up measures to prevent forest fires as the region enters the peak dry season.
Earlier, at the beginning of the ongoing dry season, provinces took various measures to protect forests like dredging canals to store more water and mobilising human resources and facilities to monitor fires.
They undertook advocacy activities to raise public awareness of forest protection and prevention of fires.
In Cà Mau Provinice, the provincial People’s Committee is ordering relevant departments and agencies to have in place sufficient personnel and facilities to promptly discover fires and extinguish them.
The province has 110,000ha of forests, including 66,539ha of saltwater mangrove forests, 43,195ha of brackish – water mangrove forests (U Minh Hạ forests) and 716ha on islands.
The U Minh Hạ forests and those on islands usually face a high fire risk in the dry season, according to the province’s Forest Protection Sub-department.
Rangers are thus tightening checks to prevent the illegal entry of people to harvest honey and poach since their activities can cause forest fires.
Some 8,500ha of forests in the U Minh Hạ National Park face fire risk level 1.
Huỳnh Minh Nguyên, director of the park, said a part of the forests would face risk level 2 in the next two weeks.
After Tết (the Lunar New Year), which fell on February 12 this year, canals in the park have been dredged to store water for firefighting, he said.
“The national park has sufficient human resources to monitor forests to promptly cope with fires.”
In the 8,535ha U Minh Thượng National Park in Kiên Giang Province’s U Minh Thượng District, 1,115ha face a severe threat of fire.
Trần Văn Thắng, its deputy director, said the park has built a digital map showing water resources, transport and access to areas that face fire risk.
Some 1.4 million cubic metres of water have been pumped into key areas and high ground for firefighting.
The park has cleared obstacles from 72km of canals and 25 roads in high-risk forests to improve access.
It has set up four groups with 6 – 10 people each to monitor high-risk areas around the clock.
It has strengthened advocacy activities to raise awareness among people living close to forests about protection and fire prevention.
In Hậu Giang Province’s Phụng Hiệp District, Lung Ngọc Hoàng Nature Reserve has upgraded sluices and dams, dredged canals and mobilised personnel to fight possible fires in 2,805ha of forests.
Lư Xuân Hội, director of the reserve, said cameras have been installed in three watch towers for monitoring fires.
The reserve is working closely with other relevant agencies at the provincial and district levels to monitor forests. It has had no fires in the last 18 years.
In An Giang Province, mountainous districts like Tri Tôn and Thoại Sơn have taken measures to mitigate the risk of fires.
Tri Tôn has more than 8,400ha of forests of which, 4,406ha, including 2,550ha in mountainous areas, face a severe threat of fire, according to relevant authorities.
The district has stepped up propaganda about forest protection regulations and the monitoring of forests and the task of preventing fires.
People managing forest have created fire breaks in forests, set up watch towers and stored water for firefighting.
The delta has 347,000ha of forests, mostly mangrove and cajuput. – VNS