Forest fires drop by 79% in North of Thailand thanks to patrolling
Proactive measures to prevent forest fires in Chiang Mai and elsewhere in the North have paid off hugely by bringing hot spots down by 79% this year, a senior official said.
Kritsayam Kongsatree, director of the Protected Areas Regional Office 16, said on Saturday that his office deployed forest fire-fighting personnel to patrol the forests, and these measures have been proved to be successful.
He said only 67 hotspots were detected in Chiang Mai and Lamphun forests since January 1, a drop of 79% from last year.
The office falls under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNPWP) and oversees 19 forests covering 7.8 million rai (1.25 million hectares) in Chiang Mai and Lamphun.
The government instructed the DNPWP to step up efforts to prevent forest fires, which are blamed for worsening PM2.5 air pollution in the North.
He said officials have found that leaves and branches in the forests have dried up ahead of the upcoming dry season, so his office will deploy more units to patrol some 300 spots for two months to prevent fires. The units will be deployed from February 15.
The office will also stop local villagers from entering forests to collect edibles, especially fire morels or mushrooms that pop up on burned land, for fear that they might accidentally set off forest fires.
Kritsayam said some 1,290 officials have been put in charge of preventing forest fires, while other local agencies are also lending a hand. He added that though the office has some 3,500 firefighters, another 300 will be needed during the dry season.
The additional 300 officials will help monitor the Mae Ping National Park, Om Koi Wildlife Sanctuary, Mae Tuen Wildlife Sanctuary and forests straddling the three provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Tak, Kritsayam added.