|Members of a forest protection group at the U Minh Thượng National Park in Kiên Giang Province patrol forests to look for fires. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Huy Hải|
HCM CITY — Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have stepped up measures for preventing forest fires during the ongoing peak dry season when the threat is high.
In Kiên Giang Province, more than 41,200ha of forests are under threat because of extreme hot weather and the drying out of water sources in forests, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,
Trương Thanh Hào, deputy director of the department, said the forest fire risks are between the third and fifth levels, the latter being the highest.
The forests facing the highest risk level are in Phú Quốc City and Kiên Hải District, he said.
The Forest Protection Sub-department, in co-operation with localities and forest managers, has regularly organised advocacy activities for forest fire prevention and persuaded nearly 1,000 households living near forests to sign commitments to combat fires.
It has established more than 170 grassroots fire prevention groups with more than 1,500 members comprising rangers, forest managers and others.
In Cà Mau, the country’s southernmost province, more than 33,000ha of forests are under threat, with 18,200ha designated level five.
Lê Văn Hải, head of the province Forest Protection Sub-department, said Hòn Khoai Islands and U Minh District face the highest risk of fires.
The province has assigned more than 500 forest rangers and managers, employees of the U Minh Hạ Forestry One Member Co., Ltd and the U Minh Hạ National Park to monitor forests around the clock and take prompt measures in case of fires.
It has also got more than 5,000 local people to stand by for helping combat forest fires.
An Giang Province has identified nearly 7,370ha of forests, or more than 43 per cent of the total, as facing high risk of fires. They locate mostly in the mountainous districts of Tịnh Biên and Tri Tôn and Châu Đốc City.
The mountainous localities have many pagodas and temples, and in what is the peak pilgrimage time people often burn incense and votive paper offerings which poses a fire risk.
The province has stepped up advocacy among pilgrims about the risk of forest fires whenever they burn anything.
Trương Minh Hùng, deputy head of the province Forest Protection Sub-department, said his agency has instructed its staff to monitor forest fires at certain important places.
Besides, authorities in the delta, which comprises 12 provinces and Cần Thơ City, have prepared more firefighting facilities and stored water.
Phan Thị Trúc Giang, head of the Sóc Trăng Province Forest Protection Sub-department, said it is important to dredge canals in forests to store water and facilitate waterway travel to combat fires.
The province has more than 10,200ha of forests, mostly cajuput, but has managed to keep them safe from fires for many years.
Kiên Giang has created hundreds of kilometres of firebreaks, built or upgraded 25 dams and six sluices and installed 47 water containers in important forests facing high risks.
It has cleared forests of flammable materials, dredged water reservoirs in forests to increase their capacity, pumped water into cajuput forests, built 35 watchtowers, and drilled 80 borewells.
There have been four forest fires in Phú Quốc Island this dry season, which damaged 3.4ha of forests. — VNS