Forest fire prevention

Written by Lamin Nyabally, Agriculture extension worker of Tesito project.

Forest fires are the biggest threat for forests the in Lower River Region, particularly Kiang west District, where the Tesito project takes place. Lower river region due to its geographical location is the hot spot for forest fires. Kiang west district is one of the last remaining blocks with significant forest cover both in the region and the country.

Forest is an essential resource for people living around it, that’s why it is important to protect it from burning and degradation. More than 95% of the people in the area rely on farming as a main livelihood. Women normally farm rice and vegetables while men are in groundnut production. Besides these, people use the forest for livelihoods such as firewood collection, charcoal production for domestic and commercial purposes, fruits and nuts collection and herbs collection for medical purposes.

This is why FFHC and Dodo together in cooperation with the Forestry Department arranged training in 15 communities in the Kiang West district last year. In each community, 25 people participated in the training, making a total of 375 people in the district. This week, 90 women farmers in Jiffarong will also participate in the forest fire prevention training.

The primary objectives of the training is to conserve the remaining forest and animals in the area, improve the livelihoods of the people by sustainable forest management, build capacity in forest management and fire prevention, mitigate climate change effects and promote effective community co-operation.

The key areas discussed in the training are roles of the stakeholders in fire management, legal provisions, communication and public awareness in case of fire, causes and effects of forest fires, inventory and management of equipment, identification of hot spot areas,  recovery and rehabilitation, and activities in forest fire prevention, management and control.

In the training, participatory fire management plans were drafted. A participatory village resource mapping was used to highlight the village resources particularly the forest resources, and hot spots identified. After that, a plan was made, to agree on the activities that are supposed to be done in the coming 5 years by the community members and forest authorities. These include for example controlled burning and creating fire belts. In each of the communities, fire management equipment was provided. These included rakes, gloves, shovels, boots and knapsack sprayers.

Building the capacity of the local communities, implementing the fire management plans and providing equipment is expected to have a positive effect on the forest fire situation in the area.