|The U Minh Hạ National Park in Cà Mau Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Huỳnh Thế Anh|
HCM CITY — Local authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have stepped up efforts to prevent forest fires even as the region enters the highly risky dry season.
In the southernmost province of Cà Mau, many measures have been put in place, especially to protect the 8,500ha U Minh Hạ National Park.
Water in the higher parts of the park have been drying out since the beginning of this month and the threat of forest fire is high, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to Huỳnh Minh Nguyên, director of the park, rangers have taken positions in watch towers to monitor the park around the clock.
They also regularly patrol the park to prevent people from entering to collect honey, hunt or fish, activities that could cause fires.
"The canopy is thick and like a tinderbox," he said.
More than 5,000 families living in the park’s buffer zone and cajeput forests have been mobilised to help fight forest fires.
The department has called on private individuals managing forests to implement preventive measures against fires.
Forest management units should regularly assess the dryness to take proper fire-prevention measures and teach local households how to prevent fires, it said.
This month the hot weather peaks in the south, according to the South Centre for Hydrometeorology Forecasting.
"In An Giang Province, districts with large forest areas including Tịnh Biên and Tri Tôn are in a state of preparedness to prevent fires," Trần Phú Hòa, head of the province Forest Protection Sub-department said.
Tịnh Biên alone has more than 6,270ha of forests that face the risk of fires.
Kiên Giang Province has seven areas that face fire risks — the U Minh Thượng National Park, Phú Quốc National Park, Phú Quốc protective forest, Hòn Đất – Kiên Hà protective forest, An Biên – An Minh coastal protective forest, and a forest managed by the 422 Forestry Plantation Project.
The province People’s Committee has issued orders to strengthen fire prevention measures.
Kiên Giang has 86,450ha of zoned forests, accounting for 13.6 per cent of its total area, according to its Forest Protection Sub-department.
It has spent more than VNĐ10 billion (US$440,000) on preparations to prevent forest fires this year.
Trương Thanh Hào, head of the local Forest Protection Sub-department, said the province had instructed local forest rangers, the police, army, and militia to work closely to prevent fires.
The province has built temporary dams and dredged wells in forests to store water, cleared dried branches and bushes in forests and established firebreaks.
Forest management units have stepped up checks and will close the forests at the peak of the dry season. — VNS