http://en.rian.ru/russia/20050722/40955822.html


18:19 | 22/ 07/ 2005

MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Airborne Forest Protection Service offered European countries help in preventing and extinguishing forest fires.

According to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, the service "is expressing serious concern about forest fires raging on the territory of European countries and is ready to offer assistance to those countries where this natural disaster is continuing."

Service Director Nikolai Kovalev said his experts could also help European firefighters to coordinate their efforts in extinguishing fires.

Russian experts developed a system of emergency response that allows concentrating additional efforts in the most dangerous areas. According to Kovalev, most of the service's aircraft are certified to work abroad and firefighters from Germany, China, the United States and Canada often visit Russia to share experience with their Russian colleagues.

Valery Roshchupkin, the head of the Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhos), said the current situation in the forests in France, Italy and Portugal is similar to that in Russia and that Rosleskhos has valuable experience in containing and extinguishing forest fires.

Since the start of the 2005 fire season, the number of forest fires and the total size of the areas affected by them decreased by half compared with the same period last year, due to the agency's increased preventive measures, he said.