Increased precipitation raises wildfire risk

February 4, 2022 - 17:17

TEHRAN – Given that heavy snow and rainfall saturated the country over the past few months, plant and vegetation cover has been expanded which seems to be vulnerable to temperature rise, so wildfire risk increases during this summer (starting on May 22).

Considering temperature increase during the summer, vegetation and plants will dry which enhances the possibility of massive fires, Amir Massoud Jalali, director of natural resources protection office of the Forests, Rangelands and Watershed Management Organization said.

Moreover, vegetation has covered vast areas of Zagros forest in the southwestern part of the country, which easily ignites when temperature level gets higher and wildfire risk increases, he also lamented.

As the result of the rain, plants and vegetation have grown in vast areas of forests and rangelands which soon will be dried due to temperature rise and enhance the possibility of massive fires, he added.

To prevent the probable losses, we held some meetings and discussed ways to extinguish the fires instantly using the available equipment and facilities, he highlighted, noting, requirements and shortages also have been assessed and announced to responsible bodies in order to provide us with the necessary facilities.

Some 150,000 people are participating in training courses in the fields of fire prevention and control to help rangers of the Department of Environment as “nature protectors”, which have been educated through training courses.

At present, we have purchased a monitoring system for all DOE departments to establish a monitoring center in all provinces to soon detect any wildfire, and negotiations are underway to buy advanced equipment, he further explained.

Budget to prevent wildfires up by 10-fold

A total of 1 trillion rials (around $3.6 million) has been allocated to preventing and extinguishing wildfires in the budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year (starting March 21), a 10-fold rise compared to the current year.

During the last two years, there has been no specific credit line for forest and pasture firefighting, but a special budget has been allotted in this regard for the next year, Masoud Mansour, head of the FRWMO said.

Wildfire in natural areas decreases by 49%

The occurrence of wildfire in natural areas has declined by 49 percent since the beginning of the current [Iranian calendar] year compared to the same period last year, deputy commander of the protection unit of the Forests, Rangelands, and Watershed Management Organization has said.

This year, with the implementation of protective measures and increasing public participation and equipping protection units, the burnt areas in natural resources have decreased by 46 percent compared to the previous year, Ali Mohammadi Moghaddam said in December 2021.

Currently, 5,000 rangers are active to protect natural resources, however, one protection force is needed for every 2,000 hectares of forest and one protection force for every 10,000 hectares of pasture, which has not been achieved in the country due to lack of manpower.

According to Mohammadi Moghaddam, there are currently 135 million hectares of forests and pastures in the country, with one ranger per 6,000 hectares of forest, and one ranger per 30,000 hectares of pastures.

Wildfires are mostly caused by unintentional human error, said that over 90 percent of wildfires are ignited by humans unintentionally while setting fires in nature, smoking, and releasing plastic and glass containers.


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