27 Nov to 2 Dec, Punakha-Wangdue: In their earnest effort to reduce forest fires, the Forest Fire Management Section (FFMS) conducted door-to-door forest fire prevention campaign in Thimphu, Wangdue and Punakha Dzongkhags.
Conducted over the last two weeks, the campaign covered close to 900 households in Punakha and Wangdue and another 500 households in Thimphu. They were thoroughly advocated and briefed on three key messages such as responsibility, burning safely and penalties. In addition they were also given with bunch of education materials.
The campaign involving DeSuups, police personnel, forest fire volunteers together with the forest officials from Dzongkhag Forestry Sector and Territorial Division walked to every households and knocked doors in the vulnerable areas. They covered several geogs in Punakha and Wangdue while in Thimphu, seven vulnerable areas such as Sangaygang, Changangkha, Changedaphu, Kuenselphodrang base, Semtokha, Lungtenphu to Samazingkha and opposite Royal Academy for Performing Arts hall were covered.
FFMS Kinley Tshering said they are doing everything in order to reduce forest fire incidences in the Country. “In continuously working towards keeping the fire incidence at bay and if best be, prevent it altogether, we are deploying various strategies,” said Kinley.
Before heading to the fields, the volunteers were briefed about their task. While thanking DeSuups, armed forces and other volunteers for their unstinted supports, Kinley Tshering presented on the fire hazard mapping he has done. The target areas has been determined based on vulnerability, past forest fire incidences, proximity to forest, roads, hut settlements, aspects and several other factors.
Kinley Tshering shared that majority of forest fire in Bhutan is caused due to anthropogenic activities. “As per our records, many forest fire starts due to human activities,” he shared adding activities such as burning agriculture debris and children playing with igniting material tops the list. Hence, he said that it is deemed important to keep people informed and aware about forest fires.
Helen Wositzky, an Australian volunteer with FFMS asked participants to go out with three key messages. “Responsibility, Burning safely and Penalties, are three important things you must talk with people during your door-to-door awareness campaign,” She added that if people really need to burn, the areas must be cleared around. “Inform them to avoid windy weather,” she told.
Helen also told participants to remind them that they must tend to fire all time. “Once started, they must ensure to leave only if the remnants are cool to touch.” They interacted, talked and advised the people on almost everything about forest fire preventions. They requested people to be careful with fire, be weary of children playing with matches, responsibility they must also shoulder, how to safely burn if they have to. People were also made aware of the fines and penalties they will be slapped with if they start the fire. This is expected to deter people and minimise chances of forest fires.
Kinley Tshering said the activity was a huge success. He was satisfied that they were able to talk to huge number of people. “They are made aware of the risk of forest fire with the onset of winter,” he said. “Hopefully, there will be no forest fires.”
Reported by Ugyen Tshering, ICS in Punakha
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