Wildfire burns 100,000 ha of forests, rangelands in 5 years

March 11, 2022 - 19:31

TEHRAN – Over 100,000 hectares of forests and rangelands have been burned by wildfire during the past five years, Mohammad Hassan Nami, head of the Disaster Management Organization, has said.

Iran, like many other countries in the world, is exposed to climate change, and planning to reduce the effects of this phenomenon is inevitable, he highlighted.

About 140 million hectares of the country are covered by natural resources, 14 million hectares of which are forests, 34 million deserts, and the rest are pastures, he stated.

Factors such as overgrazing, land-use changes in the pasture have intensified the destruction of the rangelands, which will lead to desertification of large areas of the country, he said, pointing out that the dry vegetation is a cause of wildfires.

Referring to wildfire as a threat to forests and pastures, he noted that wildfire burnt 100,000 ha of forests, rangelands in the last 5 years.

Necessary planning in order to predict and prevent fires in the forests and pastures of the country should be on the agenda of the related organization, although some measures have been taken in this regard, it is not enough, he emphasized.

Today, sustainable development is not possible without paying attention to environmental issues and natural resources, he said, adding, the set of actions of different responsible bodies in the development process should be compatible with the capacity of natural resources.

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.

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.

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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