|The southern province of Hau Giang conducted different measures to protect the 5,000-hectare U Minh Ha Forest from fires due to severe hot weather. — VNA/VNS Photo Huynh Su
HCM CITY (VNS) — More than 43,000ha of cajuput trees in Ca Mau Province's U Minh Ha Forest, the country's largest cajuput forest, face the threat of forest fires as prolonged drought has caused water levels to decline rapidly.
Of the figure, 20,300 ha are at the second level for forest-fires and the rest at the third warning level, according to the province's Sub-department of Forest Protection.
The country's forest-fire warning system is divided into five levels, with the fifth the most dangerous.
The U Minh Ha Forest, which is located in Tran Van Thoi, Thoi Binh and U Minh districts, often has forest fires in the dry season.
The dryness in the forest is expected to reach its peak in March and April, according to the sub-department.
Do Van Dong, deputy head of the sub-department, said: "Water levels in the forest have fallen quickly. Forest areas with a third warning level may be listed at the fourth-level in a few days."
If the drought continues, some forest areas will have no water to prevent and control forest fires, he said.
Since last October, the U Minh Ha Forest has taken measures to keep water, but the water levels are 60 cm lower than the same period last year.
To prevent forest fires, the sub-department has given support to four groups responsible for preventing forest fires, prepared 80 pumps and more than 450 forest rangers and owners to work at fire-watching towers around the clock.
Le Van Hai, head of the sub-department, said forest owners had arranged people to monitor forest fires around the clock from 126 fire-watching towers, set up 86 large water pumps and 64,000 meters of water pipes for fighting forest fires in major areas.
Forest owners have also prepared a 90km-long road through the forest, 210km of canals and 80 motorboats to use to inspect forests, he said.
Tran Van Hieu, director of the U Minh Ha Forest Company, which has a large area of forest areas threatened by fires, said his company had built 21 dams to keep water and had also set up 21 large pumps.
The company has worked with four other forest owners to set up 24 water pumps during the dry season.
The forest protection bureaus of U Minh and Tran Van Thoi districts, which manage the largest forest areas in the province, are working with local authorities to disseminate information to the public so they can participate in preventing and controlling forest fires.
The bureaus have also encouraged all households living in forests and farms not to burn rice fields and enter forests to collect honey hives or hunt wild animals.
The bureaus and the U Minh Ha National Forest have also banned people from entering the forest illegally, and rejecting tourists who want to visit forests.
The southernmost province of Ca Mau has closed the forest to prevent forest fires. — VNS