Toledo Representative Urges End to Land Clearing Fires

Toledo Representative Urges End to Land Clearing Fires

Area Representative for Toledo West, Oscar Requena, is appealing to residents to desist from setting fires to clear land and dispose of garbage. In recent weeks, several fires started by persons utilizing the slash-and-burn method have led to the destruction of acres of crops and wildlife across the country. As recently as Saturday, a fire started by the burning of garbage led to three homes being destroyed in San Pedro Columbia Village, Toledo. Minister Requena says he has witnessed firsthand the destruction caused by the illegal lighting of fires and is calling on residents to stop. 

Oscar Requena, Area Representative, Toledo West: “I really want to appeal to the residents of San Pedro Colombia and certainly other villages in Toledo district and by extension the whole country that there are certain regulations that govern how fires are used to burn plantations that’s very important. I mean there’s a process, there’s a clear process. I mean farmers have to be able to get a permit, they have to go to the relevant authorities and get their permits and there are certain things that they must put in place such as opening up a fire path, making sure that they did not light in the middle of the day when the sun is very hot, they have to pick a certain time among other things. The truth of the matter is that it’s very heart wrenching and very sad to see the amount of destruction, massive destruction that has taken place in farmlands particularly in San Pedro Colombia over the last few weeks. There have been several fires and I can say that one of the fires as far as we know was actually set up by a farmer who was very responsible, he lit fire ten o’clock in the morning and essentially did not monitor the fire and as a result of that several lands and farms were burnt. I mean it’s so sad because you know people have to be fighting the fire late in the night volunteering their time and it’s not everybody who does that. I mean I really want to than the volunteers who go out there and give selflessly of their time and then just last night again this time I believe it was done deliberately I think someone just deliberately lit a fire.”

Requena added that in his constituency, fires have led to tremendous economic losses for several farmers and residents. 

Oscar Requena, Area Representative, Toledo West: “The destruction in San Pedro Colombia is massive. It’s very heart wrenching to see what has been done you know all our biodiversity is essentially destroyed. The farms and the lands that sustain people’s livelihoods are gone and that is very sad. Added to that equation is over the weekend in San Pedro Colombia again you know someone lit a fire and accidentally the fire spread and ended up burning three homes. That is very sad. So my appeal there today is to Belizeans to certainly be more responsible at this point we’re in the peak of the dry weather. I appeal to persons please do not play with fire it is dangerous and we have to move away, I mean it’s a process where we have to begin to educate our farmers and we have to be able to put in place certain support measures so that our farmers move away from burning. I really and honestly believe that there is a better way than to slash and burn.”

We note that the National Fire Service has also warned residents of burning garbage and bushes, and leaving them unattended.

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