A fire broke out across 40ha of pines in Ia Grai protective forest in Ia Chia Commune, Ia Grai District of Central Highlands province of Gia Lai in March. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Điệp
HCM CITY – Authorities, including local ones, need to increase patrolling and promote fire safety to ensure there are no major forest fires during the ongoing dry season, a meeting held to review forest protection and fire prevention heard in HCM City yesterday.
Lê Thanh Liêm, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee, said: “Forest fires have a severe impact on daily life and the economy and environment.”
He instructed related authorities and districts to increase patrols and take severe action against anyone found violating forest protection laws.
“Districts, which have forests in small patches, must improve fire prevention.”
He said local authorities should liaise closely with households who have been allotted forests and take care of them, he added.
He instructed the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to enhance propaganda and education on forest protection and safety and forest fire prevention and fighting, and inform local residents about the level of fire threats for them to be prepared.
“Relevant authorities must regularly monitor individuals and organisations working in forests to ensure they follow fire safety regulations.
“The city Forest Rangers Sub-department should step up patrolling.”
The city has 35,600 hectares of forests, in districts 9, Cần Giờ, Bình Chánh, and Củ Chi.
“Around 8,600 hectares face a high risk of fires,” Trần Tấn Quý, deputy director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Department and deputy head of the city’s Steering Committee for Forest Protection, Fire Prevention and Fighting, said.
Quý said many activities like poaching and illegal logging could potentially spark off forest fires.
“Fire prevention in forest patches is difficult because their owners do not pay attention. Low awareness of forest fires is another threat.”
Last year HCM City suffered two forest fires on an area of 1.8 hectares, but thanks to their immediate discovery they were controlled before they could cause major damage.
Quý said local authorities in Cần Giờ should strengthen oversight of aquaculture and salt making in protective forests, promote afforestation and increase patrolling, especially in border areas.
Districts 9, Bình Chánh, Củ Chi, and Hóc Môn should educate local communities about forest fire safety, he said.
“The irrigation sub-department should work closely with Bình Chánh, Hóc Môn and Củ Chi districts to ensure there is adequate water for agriculture and fire fighting.”
Lê Minh Dũng, chairman of the Cần Giờ district People’s Committee, said: “Cần Giờ has over 30,000 hectares of protective forests with mostly inflammable trees.
“To prepare for this dry season, the district has cleared 16.5 hectares of dried grass, maintains fire towers, bought more high-pressure pumping systems and other fire-fighting equipment.”
The Cần Giờ People’s Committee has instructed related authorities to work with their counterparts in neighbouring provinces like Đồng Nai and Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu for forest protection and fire safety. — VNS