Involving Local Communities to Prevent and Control Forest Fires
WASHINGTON and ROME, July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Involving local communities
is crucial to prevent and control destructive forest fires, FAO said today.
"Globally, 95 percent of all fires are caused by various human
activities," said Mike Jurvelius, an FAO forest fire expert.
"If humans are the main cause of forest fires, prevention and control have
to involve people at local level. The traditional approach of focusing on
legislation and expensive equipment alone is not sufficient," he added. "Local
communities actively participate in forest fire prevention and control when
they have a stake in forest management and benefit from the forests."
Main causes of fire outbreaks in rural areas include: uncontrolled use of
fire for agriculture; setting fire to forests and grassland to convert them
into agricultural fields; the use of fire to gain access to hunting; and
Some forest ecosystems are adapted to fires, and even benefit from them,
but most farmers lack incentives and sometimes the skills to contain them.
Since the 1980s, forest fires have increased in severity in many parts of
the world. In 2002, fires destroyed more than 864 million acres (350 million
hectares) of forests and grassland globally, an area equal in size to that of
India. In Europe, according to the Global Fire Monitoring Center, based in
Freiburg, Germany, almost 1.7 million acres (700,000 hectares) of forests and
bushland were scorched by fire in 2003.
Role of local communities
"Fire management is directly linked with benefits. Only when local
communities know they will benefit from protecting their forests, will they do
everything to prevent forest fires," Jurvelius said.
A village in China, for example, has had no uncontrolled fires for over 35
years, ever since a policy was adopted that provided benefits and income from
the forests to the villagers.
A study in India revealed that the level of rural communities' dependency
on their surrounding forests relates directly to their participation in fire
In the Gambia, community forestry practices have resulted in a drop in
damaging and unwanted fires, as increased participation and access to forest
ownership have led to more effective fire prevention and suppression.
Community-based fire control activities in the United States have been
highly successful. Some of the awareness-raising activities that have been
used include a geographic analysis of potential hazards for fire fighters,
educating people on how to protect their houses with fire resistant materials,
and warning systems on days with severe fire weather conditions.
In many countries, however, despite legal obligations requiring local
communities to participate in fire management, governments have not yet been
successful in mobilizing communities, where rural people have little influence
on decision-makers and planners.
FAO supports member countries to develop policy, legal and institutional
frameworks to strengthen the active role of local institutions in forest fire
FAO recommends that each country analyze its fire situation and develop a
strategy for preventing and managing wildland fire. In many countries, local
communities alone are not capable of managing intense and large fires.
Intervention is required from provincial or national level agencies.
In some countries, more effective law enforcement against arsonists is an
important part of the solution. In other countries, awareness of fire
prevention and control needs to be increased, especially at the edge of urban
areas where housing is constructed inside forests. Improved monitoring may be
required, and emergency call centres should be established for people to
FAO also promotes international cooperation among countries affected by
forest fires. FAO has developed guidelines for countries to establish
agreements so as to assist each other in responding to fire emergencies and to
exchange resources. Such agreements may be established at the bilateral,
regional, or even the global level.
FAO is currently assisting Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mongolia,
Namibia and Syria in developing forest fire control policies and community-
based fire management and awareness programs.
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07-27-2004, 01:41 AM #1
FYI Forest Fires (Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations)Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
*Gathering Crust Since 1968*
On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
07-27-2004, 09:11 AM #2
- Join Date
- May 2004
ah - the big picture
Here's the UNEP's most recent take on burning
One view on outcomes and global co-operation implications of the worst wildfire in living memory - SE Asia's HAZE.
Speaking in Canberra during this $14B disaster from an el Nino year, WWF International's JP Jeanreaud, Chief of Forestry, said there ought to be a globally-capable, globally-staffed, firefighting force, armed and equipped as never before, in an effort the equivalent to war, ready to go anywhere, anytime, to stop the burning.
Stay tuned to el Nino.
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