Firefighting centers to be established in 6 provinces

November 11, 2020 - 17:35

TEHRAN – Firefighting centers will be established over the next Iranian calendar year (starting on March 21, 2021) in six provinces of East Azarbaijan, Khuzestan, Mazandaran, Golestan, North Khorasan, and Khorasan Razavi, an official with the Department of Environment (DOE) has stated.

Given the sensitivity of proper protection of areas, funds were provided to set up firefighting bases in the provinces that are most prone to wildfire, Reza Hassan Harati stated.

These centers are established in Arasbaran protected areas in East Azarbaijan province, Shimbar in Khuzestan and Samsakandeh in Mazandaran, he noted, adding, in provinces of North Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi, there are two centers already, which will be renovated and turn into a firefighting base.

Wildfire has burnt 7,017 hectares of areas under the management of the Department of Environment since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21). While in the same period last year, 4,760 hectares were haunted by fire, so wildfire has increased by 34 percent, Harati said a week earlier. Each station, depending on the sensitivity of the areas and the credit given to them, is equipped with facilities such as heliport, water resources, fuel resources, stations for the forces to rest.

He went on to say that these stations will be operational by the end of the current [Iranian calendar] year and the beginning of the next [Iranian calendar] year, for example, the initial steps are taken in Arasbaran.

In addition, the necessary instructions announced to the provinces to prepare for wildfire prevention and extinguishment as soon as the risk raises, he added.

Given that most of the protected areas are located in the highlands and in impassable areas, so a helicopter is needed to take forces to the area burning in the fire, he also said.

From the beginning of this [Iranian calendar] year to November 9, 7,017 hectares of areas under the management of the DOE haunted by wildfire, which in the same period last year 4,760 hectares were affected, so there is a 34 percent increase in fires.

Wildfire has burnt 7,017 hectares of areas under the management of the Department of Environment since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21). While in the same period last year, 4,760 hectares were haunted by fire, so wildfire has increased by 34 percent, Harati said a week earlier.

To preserve the existing biodiversity over the wide geographic expanse of Iran, four types of areas have been designated for preservation and protection, including, national parks, wildlife refuges, protected areas, and natural national monuments, he explained, highlighting, currently, the DOE holds supervision over 18 million hectares.

Most of the causes of the fires were accidental, but there were intentional and natural causes, as well. Judicial cases are being investigated for the intentions, he stated.

Humans the leading cause of wildfire

Ali Abbasnejad, the commander of the forest protection unit of Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, said in July 2019 that over 95 percent of wildfires in the country is due to human-caused ignition from unattended campfires, debris, and negligently discarded cigarettes.

He went on to add that some of the wildfires also are intentional acts of arson, some set fire to another's properties which is rooted in regional disputes.

“Some 83 percent of the country's total land area amounting to 135 million hectares is covered by natural resources. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient human forces and facilities to protect our natural resources.”

Jamshid Mohabbat Khani, commander of the protection unit of the DOE said in June that the number of rangers in Iran is one-tenth of the global standard, which is a ranger for every 12,000 hectares, while it should be a ranger per 1,000 hectares.

Regarding the people’s role in wildfires and the lack of law in this field, Mohabbat Khani, said that last year (ended on March 19), 12 percent of fires were naturally set, on the other hand, 18 percent of fires were an act of arson.

Reza Aflatooni, the deputy director of the Forests, Rangelands, and Watershed Management Organization for legal affairs, in June announced that people who deliberately set fire to forests and pastures are sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.

Farmers, ranchers, and gardeners must obtain permission from natural resources officials for burning their garden plant residues, he said.

Qasem Sabz’ali, commander of the forest protection unit of the Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, said in April 2018 that some 15,000 hectares of forests burn in wildfires annually in Iran that 95 percent of them are caused by humans.

Forest wildfire brings a heavy economic burden amounting to 560 million rials (about $13,000) per hectare for the country, he added.

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