Over 11,000 ha of forests, rangelands burnt in summer

August 20, 2019

TEHRAN – Raging wildfire burnt 11,254 hectares of forests and rangelands across the country, since the beginning of summer, the commander of the forest protection unit of Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, has said.

Humans are responsible for over 90 percent of the wildfires, ISNA quoted Ali Abbasnejad as saying on Sunday.

Negligently discarded cigarettes were the leading cause of human-caused ignition, he lamented.

He went on to say that 673 fire occurrences have been reported in the country's forests and rangelands during the first month of summer, through which, 7,492 hectares of rangelands and forests have been damaged.

However, this month, wildfires have declined compared to the last month, he noted, stating, 377 fires have occurred during the second month of summer, affecting 3,762 hectares of the natural resources.

Referring to human share of 90-95 percent in wildfires, he explained that two human errors are the most important causes of wildfires, one is throwing glass bottles on the side of the roads or inside the forests which magnifies a ray of sunlight, igniting grass around it, and the other one is leaving a fire unextinguished; some of the people camping in the nature do not ensure that the fire is completely put out.

Thunderstorms, electricity and even regional disputes are some of the causes of unintentional wildfires in forests, he added.

Abbasnejad regretted that in some cases, we used to put out the fire with aerial firefighting, while this year the lack of budget made this option unavailable.

According to the law, anyone who deliberately causes fires in the forests is sentenced to imprisonment of two to five years, he concluded.

Heavy rains over the past few months led to the plants and vegetation grown in vast areas of forests and rangelands which soon turned dry due to temperature rise and enhanced the possibility of massive fires.

Mohammad Reza Khishtandar, commander of Tehran province environment protection unit said that wildfire incurred losses to Tehran’s protected areas during the first three months of this year (started on March 21), which was 90 times more than the same period last year.

Also, Jamshid Mohabbat Khani, head of the Department of Environment’s protection unit has said that some 400 hectares of the protected areas turned into ashes due to raging wildfire, since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year, with Tehran setting record highs for wildfire within two first months of this year.

Qasem Sabz’ali, commander of the forest protection unit of the Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, said that forest wildfire brings heavy economic burden amounting to 560 million rials (about $13,000) per hectare for the country.

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