By: Tamarindo News Staff Photos by: Marisol Arias
In many regions of the country, hundreds of hectares of land, many of them near houses and natural protection sites, have been burnt by forest fires.
This is a recurring, annual situation but in the last two years, fires have significantly increased. Therefore, the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency (CNE) has declared a green alert for the following regions:
-Brunca-Los Santos: Corredores, Golfito, Coto Brus, Osa, Buenos Aires, Pérez Zeledón, Dota, Tarrazú, León Cortés.
-Central Pacific: Puntarenas, Paquera, Lepanto, Cóbano, Garabito, Esparza, Montes de Oro, Aguirre, Parrita, Orotina and San Mateo.
-Chorotega: La Cruz, Liberia, Bagaces, Cañas, Tilarán, Abangares, Carillo, Santa Cruz, Nicoya, Hojancha, Nandayure.
-Huétar North: Upala, Guatuso, Los Chiles, San Carlos.
-Central Valley: Cartago, La Unión, El Guarco, Santa Ana, Escazú, Mora, Puriscal, Acosta, Aserrí, Alajuelita, Turrubares, Desamparados, Atenas, Grecia, Naranjo and San Ramón.
Due to the alert, the CNE hopes to attract the attention of the area inhabitants in order to collaborate with forest fires guards and prevention agents by following their directions at all times, especially at this time of the year, the driest.
Emphasis is placed on the fact that more of 40 percent of forest fires are produced by human actions, among them: burning of trash and organic rubbish and waste, as well as cigarette butts disposed of in barren fields.
Forest firemen and the Costa Rican Fire Department had to face not only an increase of emergencies this year, but also a water shortage due to a water deficit such as in Guanacaste where rain is down by 75 percent.
Actions recommended by the CNE and the Fire Department are:
Put out cigarettes or other lit elements.
Put out bonfires.
Prevent children from playing with matches and fireworks.
Prevent setting fire to harvest residues and land clearings.
Alert authorities about developing fires.
Do not dump waste, flammable material and combustible objects in barren fields, by paths, routes or by the public roads.
Do not use fire to clean barren fields or lawns, but they must be kept clean.
According to a report released by the National System of Conservation Areas from the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the heavy drought that the El Niño Phenomenon has caused our country to suffer has dried the vegetation this April much more than the same month last year. This is the reason for quick ignition that generates complex forest fires in the various areas of the affected regions.
Along with the dry vegetation, meteorological features should be considered: high temperatures, low relative humidity, strong winds, as well as the topographical aspects. All of these characteristics generate favorable fire conditions, as do careless actions produced by people like unchecked fires, sabotage such as arson, hunting with guns and more. This way, fires begin and major losses occur.
“We are moving through the most critical period of the forest fires season that will extend until July. It is important to say that as long as forest fires in the woods and other protected areas are occurring, they will have a severe impact in the region and also on private properties,” reported a CNE statement.
Article 59 of Forest Act 7575 establishes punishments to those who cause a forest fire: a penalty of one to up to three years in prison will be imposed.
Article 60 establishes that fault-based forest fires will be punished with three months to up to two years in prison.