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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Summer brings fear of forest fires

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Every year on such days, the fire brigade and the Forest Department, wanting to prevent fires that – due to the weather conditions – will break out during the summer, indicate what we should avoid. From the outset, they have made repeated calls to avoid specific activities and have repeatedly emphasized the steps that citizens should take in the event that they detect any source of fire. However, every year, despite the numerous calls of the experts, we end up with the same. Dozens of acres and properties to be destroyed, animals to be burned and sometimes there to be human losses. After all, it was only last summer when four of our fellow human beings from Egypt were burned alive in the village of Odos, when they were surrounded by a fire that had broken out.

Human factor

The spokesman of the Department of Forests, Mr. Andreas Christou, speaking to “P” clarified that the service is prepared all year round for the summer when the fires are usually much more intense and much more than in winter. The forest firefighters and the observatories are on full alert, while all the actions have already been done regarding the cleaning of the fire zones and the activation of the fire detection machines. Mr. Christou underlined that according to research, nine out of ten fires are due to the human factor, while one in three is intentional, ie arson. At the same time, he called on the citizens not to use tools that produce sparks, the area around them to be cleared of grass and to have a fire extinguisher or a hose with them. He noted that in case any citizen sees smoke or detects a fire, call the four-digit number 1407. Finally, regarding the legislation, he noted that any activity in the state forests that can cause a fire is punishable by up to ten years in prison. and a fine of 50,000 euros.

Fire protection instructions for those visiting the forests:

• Do not throw lighted cigarettes or matches.

• Advise your children to do not play with matches, lighters, cigarettes or candles.

• Keep in mind that cooking fire is only allowed on barbecues located on the picnic areas and nowhere else.

• Before leaving the picnic area, make sure that the coals you have lit are completely extinguished.

• Avoid wandering aimlessly in the woods and observe access restrictions.

• Camping in the forest is only allowed in the camp areas.

• It is forbidden to dumping or deposition of flammable substances, but also any garbage in state forests.

• If you see a person taking action that could cause a fire, try to persuade them or notify the Forest Department immediately.

• If you find smoke or fire, notify the Forest Department immediately at 1407.


They get worse

There are many factors that affect and determine the risk of forest fires and that make our forests prone and vulnerable to fires. The meteorological conditions that prevail on our island with the prolonged hot and dry summers and the strong winds, the topography with the intense relief of the forest soils and the large slopes, as well as the characteristics of the vegetation due to their quantity, continuity and flammability. , are the main factors for which the risk of forest fires in Cyprus is extremely high throughout the summer season. Various other factors such as the accumulation of flammable fuels due to rural abandonment and land use change, the rapid growth and various human activities observed in forest and forest areas, and the lack of precautionary measures in several private estates bordering exacerbate the problem of forest fires.

The size, characteristics and consequences of forest fires make it easy for anyone to understand why forest fires are such a large and complex problem that it is extremely difficult to deal with effectively. According to studies and forecasts by experts, the situation with forest fires is expected to worsen even more in the coming years due to climate change and overheating that our planet is experiencing. Climate change is likely to cause more drought, higher temperatures and periods of stronger winds, especially in southern European countries, including Cyprus. This phenomenon will most likely lead to an increase in the duration and deterioration of the conditions of the fire-fighting season, the expansion of the areas at risk and an increase in the probability of starting fires, the speed of their spread, as well as their severity.

Kadis says the state is ready

Regarding this year's fire season, all the involved state services are in full operational readiness, having completed their planning and timely implementation of all the repeated measures and actions of prevention and preparedness that are implemented, according to what the minister stated a few days ago. Of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Costas Kadis. “Apart from the reinforcement in human resources, the reinforcement of the Forest Department in both aerial and ground firefighting means has been launched, since, by 2024, the acquisition of two additional firefighting aircraft and the purchase of new fire extinguishers is expected. He stressed that forests, with their multifunctional role, are of great value for our country as they are the backbone of the natural environment, enhance the economic, environmental, social and cultural development of the place and contribute to the creation of better living conditions, and protection fires is an essential issue and requires the contribution of all of us. “The importance that the government attaches to the protection of forests from fires is highlighted by the inclusion in the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the” Cyprus Tomorrow “Program of a special plan for forest firefighting, with a budget of 18 million euros,” he added. Mr. Kadis called, “for another year, as we renew our commitment to readiness, coordination and efficiency in the difficult task that awaits us this summer. Let us all work hard and tirelessly, dealing with every fire incident with responsibility and professionalism “.

Source: politis.com.cy

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