The Forest Department embarks on a Fire Prevention and Control Campaign
The Forest Department is working to strengthen its fire prevention and protection efforts during Belize’s fire season, which runs for a month. The department’s mandate is to ensure Belize’s fifty protected areas remain healthy and are appropriately managed. Efforts include the prevention of wildland fires within protected areas and forest reserves. Today, through funding from the German Government, the department launched its Fire Prevention and Control campaign. As a part of the campaign, the media was invited to witness the demonstration of a prescribed burn, which is a fire management tool, of 8.5 acres of land. The burn site was selected by Bulridge, a logging company operating within the reserve, to regenerate the forest area. Deputy Chief Forest Officer, John Pinelo, explained the purpose and the importance of the campaign.
John Pinelo, Deputy Chief Forest Officer: “It is important because we’ll have regular fires and as Mr.Chun said before it’s our mandate to fight fires in the country especially when it’s in protected areas. So what we do is annually we have these prescribed burns and we work along with the NGO’s, with the private sector like Bulridge so that everybody can be in tuned. We make sure that our equipment is working, we make sure everybody is trained and what we do is the new people in our department we bring in for them to start having training as well. We also send people out of the country annually on specific trainings so that they can learn what other countries are doing with fire fighting and bring that back and then try and train our guys with the new methods and technologies. It is important because our protected areas are our lungs in this country. They’re also our jewel that we advertise to everybody when they come for tourism, for natural resources, timber is still a big product in our country now we’re looking at biodiversity not only just the timber water management, soil management, wildlife all of these things are important and if you start losing forests, you start losing all the other things that I just mentioned. So it is important to manage it. Apart from that we have signed on to a number of commitments where we need to protect our forest cover, we need to protect certain percentages of protected areas, certain percentages of mangroves, certain percentages of trees so that we can keep up with these commitments. From an environmental standpoint firstly if you burn you put more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we don’t want that. From the economic standpoint leading to what you’re saying with the carbon credits if we are saying we have x amount of forests and those x amount of forests are soaking carbon dioxide and we’re burning the trees or we’re losing the trees then that number is reducing. So we need to make sure that when we’re capable of selling the carbon credits in the open market that we are right in saying we have x amount of forest cover and we will maintain it or try to make it more.”