Ministry of Environment calls on citizens to prevent forest fires

In January of this year alone, forest firefighters responded to 16 fires that affected some 1,199 tasks, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MMARN) reported Tuesday, calling on citizens to avoid lighting fires that endanger the country’s forests.

“If citizens act with due responsibility, we will be able to significantly reduce forest fires which, in 68% of the cases are associated with agriculture and livestock, that is to say, with human-driven activities,” explained Erasmo Pichardo, coordinator of the Provincial Directorates of the MMARN, when he delivered the central words of the act, on behalf of Minister Miguel Ceara Hatton.

Pichardo headed the launching ceremony of the citizen awareness campaign regarding the “Forest Fire Prevention Season 2024: Let’s protect nature, let’s put out the danger!”, which took place at the Technical Institute of Higher Studies on Environment and Natural Resources (Itesmarena).

Reading the words of Minister Ceara Hatton, Erasmo affirmed that the danger of fires can increase with phenomena associated with climate change, such as the increase in temperatures or prolonged droughts that cause water stress in forests.

In this context, he recalled what is happening in Chile or in other countries such as Colombia, Argentina or Canada, where there have been losses of human lives and a wide-ranging impact on forests and biodiversity.

“We are strengthening our response capabilities, but it is also necessary to increase public awareness to prevent fires,” said Pichardo, after recognizing the work being done by the men and women who make up the corps of more than 300 forest firefighters.

The event was attended by, Geronimo Abreu, in charge of the National Fire Management and Management Program, from MMARN, and Jose Santiago Vasquez Guerra, rector of Itesmarena.

Also present were: Captain René Rodríguez Álvarez, director of the National Environmental Protection Service (Senpa); Daryelin Torres, director of Environmental Education of MMARN; Facundo Gónzalez Pichardo and Miguel Ángel Ventura, prosecutors of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Defense of the Environment and Natural Resources (Proedemaren) in La Vega; Julián Alberto García Román, deputy director and in charge of information and analysis of the Emergency Operations Center (COE) and Evaydeé Pérez, of the Biodiversity in Productive Landscapes Project (BPP).

The priest Yonny Francisco Durán, in charge of the Environmental Pastoral of the Diocese of La Vega, blessed the forest firefighters and highlighted their vocation of service and their commitment to the preservation of the forests.

He raised a prayer, “so that the Lord may touch the heart of each one of the irresponsible who usually provoke fires, so that their criminal actions against the environment, against humanity, may cease”.

Esteban Polanco, of the Federation of Peasants Towards Progress, spoke on behalf of the communities that support the forest firefighters. “It is evident how hard, how hard, how difficult it is to put out a fire, and more so in the mountains, in inhospitable areas, where it is almost impossible to enter,” he said.

“We, who live in the mountains, must be your greatest allies. So, I take this opportunity to formally propose to Geronimo and the team, that one of the great tasks ahead of us is to prepare volunteer community brigades, which do not necessarily have to be salaried by the Ministry,” he said.

Meanwhile, Geronimo Abreu called for the population to remain vigilant and report to the authorities all fires that could trigger forest fires. “We need, in addition, to maintain that great collaboration of all the media and people who alert us of fires through the various social networks,” he said.

“Those who cause forest fires, those who become indifferent to the reality facing the world, those who fail to fulfill their responsibilities as officials in all orders, including those of the judicial system, are contributing to the ruin of the planet,” he lamented.

He recalled that last year, forest firefighters fought 860 fires that affected more than 385,000 tareas.

He highlighted the support received by the forest firefighters from different government agencies, including the armed forces, in tasks which are coordinated through the Emergency Operations Center (COE).

He also valued the contribution of initiatives such as the Biodiversity in Productive Landscapes Project (BPP), implemented by MMARN with resources from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Forest firefighters from San Juan, Restauración, Dajabón, San José de la Matas, Villa Altagracia and Constanza, exhibited some of the equipment they use in their firefighting and prevention work, in which they clean the forests to eliminate the energy load.

The exhibition included motor pumps, solar generators, chainsaws, blowers, meteorological kits, communication radios, thermal cameras, backpack pumps, torches, fire extinguishers, shovels, double-edged axes, hoes and other forestry tools.

Source: Presidencia.gob.do

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