A Joint Force to Fight Amazon and Other Fires

    Bilateral and multilateral cooperation is crucial to combat and manage forest
    fires in the Brazilian Amazon and elsewhere. Forest burning is increasing at an
    alarming rate throughout the Western Hemisphere, according to the US Food and
    Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    For the first time ever, the heads of all national forest agencies in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean will meet in the Pan- American Conference on Wildland Fire on 23 October in San Jose, Costa Rica.


    They will review the status of forest fires in the Americas and create four regional networks to combat forest fires. These networks – for South America, Central America, the Caribbean and North America – will be established under the auspices of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).


    “Ad hoc collaboration in training, information sharing and emergency support is no longer sufficient,” said Mike Jurvelius, an FAO forest fire expert.


    “To properly address the problem of forest fires we need to establish networks, to develop strategies and to facilitate exchange of personnel and equipment in the region.”


    Huge Damage and Cost


    The area of forests burnt by fires in the region is significant and the costs to suppress them are high.


    In 2002, the United States recorded the largest area of forests burnt by wildland fires since 1960, at 2.8 million hectares with a cost to US taxpayers of US$ 1.7 billion for suppression only.


    This does not include damage to property and lives lost. The trend continues, and already this year, a large fire has erupted in Alaska.


    In the 1990s, about 1 million hectares were burnt on the average each year both in Argentina and Bolivia, and as much as 1.5 million hectares on the average were burnt per year in Brazil.


    In 2003, national fire emergencies were declared for both Guatemala and Nicaragua. Large fires roared through the region of Mato Grosso, Brazil, this year.


    In Canada, an average of 2.5 million hectares per year is being lost to fire, and the cost of fire suppression is between US$ 300 million and US$ 500 million annually.


    Climate and Poverty


    Climate change may lead to an increase in forest fires. The El Nino phenomenon, which is a natural climate fluctuation, and hurricanes are causing great fires, and shifting winds are making it more difficult to suppress them, as experienced in the Caribbean this past September.


    Scientific models suggest an increase in forest fires in many regions following predicted climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions.


    “Ninety-five percent of uncontrolled forest fires are started by people. The rest are started by lightning,” said Mike Jurvelius.


    “The fires caused by people include deliberate fires that escape control, as well as fires started by accident or by arsonists,” he said.


    The capacity to control fires depends on the level of economic development, awareness and application of technology in the country or in the local community.


    In Latin America and Brazil in particular, most forest fires occur in poor rural areas where small proprietors do not have the technology to control fires and for whom fire is the only available, easy and inexpensive tool to continue their traditional use of the land.


    Fires are used to clear land for agriculture or human settlement or to improve the pasture for livestock grazing. Fires are also used to clear areas for hunting.


    In the Caribbean region, most forest fires are associated with dry forest and higher population densities.


    Regional Networks


    To tackle the problem of forest fires in the Americas, FAO supports the establishment of four regional networks involving all responsible ministries, not only those of the environment or forestry that are currently in charge of forest fires, but also of agriculture.


    The networks will strengthen collaboration in the region, encourage agreements on forest fires and facilitate exchange of technical and human resources.


    “The networks are necessary in order to promote practical training of personnel, set up databases on forest fires, and exchange information between countries on knowledge gained in preventing and combating forest fires, all of which will facilitate the effective management of forest fires both at the national and the regional level,” Jurvelius said.


    FAO Forestry Department
    http://www.fao.org/forestry/index.jsp


    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    PRNewswire

    Tags:

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    Gas station in Brazil

    Brazil Reduces Ethanol in Gasoline in Effort to Curb Prices

    In Brazil, starting this February 1st, the mandatory percentage of ethanol added to gasoline ...

    RAPIDINHAS

    According to many Portuguese people 160 million Brazilians speak the language wrongly. Are all ...

    Indians Get a Stronger Voice on Brazil’s Politics

    In an interview with National AM Radio, professor PatrÀ­cia Melo, who teaches history at ...

    Lula with Chavez

    Lula Accused of Following on Chavez’s Steps in Dealing with Brazilian Press

    Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s comments on freedom of the press are ...

    Dom Luiz Cappio talk to supporters during hunger strike

    Brazilian Bishop’s Hunger Strike in Defense of River Moves World to Action

    After two years of frustrated attempts to establish a dialogue between social movements and ...

    The Foolishness of Being Pro-American

    Any anti-American lie, in Brazil, even an absurd one, is immediately taken as pure ...

    Brazil Forecast: Less Grain, More Meat

     In its eighth estimate of the 2004 agricultural harvest in Brazil, the Brazilian Institute ...

    Rubem Fonseca’s Coraçôes Solitários In Portuguese

    I cite the classics only to show my knowledge. Since I started as a ...

    Brazil's Bunge Alimentos

    Bunge Foods Invests Over US$ 1 Billion in New Plants in Brazil

    Brazilian food manufacturing company Bunge Alimentos has just inaugurated a soy processing factory in ...

    Cost Brazil Doesn’t Allow the Country to Cut Import Tariffs

    The Brazilian industry intends to follow closely the negotiations at the 6th Ministerial Meeting ...