More than 43,500 ha of forest in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau is at high risk of fire during the existing dry season, which began in November and will last until the end of May.
The province has raised its warning to the fifth level - the highest - the sub-department said, adding that areas facing the most danger are those with cajuput and acacia trees.
The drought has become more severe now as many canals are running dry, making it difficult to extinguish fires.
Ca Mau has prepared itself by creating a forest fire prevention plan focusing on a “four-on-the-spot” strategy, but the most challenging issue is that it does not have sufficient water reserves to fight fires, according to the head of the sub-department, Le Van Hai.
Water levels in local canals now average just 0.9 meters and have fallen to 0.3 meters in some areas, Hai noted.
His unit has requested forest owners and management bodies conduct regular patrols and maintain a round-the-clock watch on forests to promptly deal with any emergency.
It has also intensified efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of following rules on forest fire prevention and forest protection. People are banned from entering forests to hunt wild animals, collect honey, and cut down trees illegally.
About 5,000 local households have signed commitments to become engaged in protecting the forests and preventing forest fires during the dry season.
A forest fire broke out in Hamlet 15, Khanh Lam commune, U Minh district a week ago, destroying around 1,500 sq.m of forest, mostly reeds. Caused by an illegal honey collector, the fire was the first in Ca Mau since the dry season began.
Dong Nai proactive in preventing forest fires
The southern province of Dong Nai, which is home to large forested areas, is taking steps to prevent fires in high-risk locations during the ongoing dry season.
The provincial forest protection department reported that through satellite observations, it detected more than 1,000 local fire points in March alone, with Xuan Loc, Tan Phu, Vinh Cuu, and Dinh Quan districts being hot spots.
The provincial People’s Committee has asked districts to prevent illegal forest exploitation and the improper use of forestry land.
Public security forces have been directed to work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to monitor forestry protection and identify those responsible for fires and the illegal exploitation of products, with incidences to be handled strictly in accordance with the law.
Local forest rangers have also set up firebreaks in hot spots, arranged around-the-clock guarding, and prepared all necessary equipment. VNA