Forest firefighters call for greater public awareness to prevent forest fires

The heads of the National Fire Management Program of the Vice-Ministry of Forestry Resources called on the population to continue developing their level of awareness of the need to avoid fires that damage forests and, therefore, have a direct impact on biodiversity and the entire water system of the DR.

During an evaluation meeting with the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Miguel Ceara Hatton, the Vice Minister of Forest Resources, José Elías González, and the heads of the National Fire Management Program, Gerónimo Abreu Abreu Abreu and Jimmy Abreu Collado, reviewed the lessons learned during this 2023, a year with a marked drought and in which more than 850 forest fires were recorded.

The meeting was attended by Erasmo Pichardo, national director of the Provincial Environmental Offices, and Hugo Abreu, director of the Cabinet of the Office of the Minister of Tourism.

The data show a record of 146 fires in La Vega and 109 in Dajabón. In addition, 47 in San Juan and 33 in Azua, being the provinces with the most affected tasks.

“In forest fires, temperature, humidity and wind speed are important variables,” recalled Abreu Abreu, who noted that firefighters are verifying variations in the behavior of forest fires, tinged by forests that, during 2023, as in other years of prolonged drought, experienced greater water stress.

The firefighters made observations regarding, for example, palpable changes in mountainous areas, such as a presence of mosquitoes in areas where they were not traditionally seen, which they presume to be associated with rising temperatures.

They also observed the uncontrolled expansion of yaragua, which in addition to acting as a fuel during a fire, in its green season makes it difficult for pine seeds to touch the ground and expand naturally.

“All this shows that the climate is changing in our mountains and this is good for Dominicans to know, so that we become more aware of the need to avoid the spread of forest fires,” Abreu Abreu said.

He noted that during 2023, 68% of forest fires were related to agriculture and livestock. Six percent were intentional, one percent were caused by electrical discharges and 13 percent were caused by falling wires, burning of solar, burning of wires or careless actions of the so-called “beekeepers”.

The firefighters recommend the population to avoid the use of fire in the preparation of agricultural land, to refrain from using fire in wooded areas, to limit the use of fire to established areas within camping zones and to inform the authorities in case of detecting the presence of smoke.


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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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