Fires In The North ‘Reduced By Half’ Says Environment Minister

Forest Fires Chiang Mai

Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa has set a goal to reduce the number of hotspots by a further 20% next year, to tackle forest fires and smog in the northern provinces.

Mr Silpa-archa delivered his remarks during the opening ceremony of the Forest Fire and Haze Prevention Operation Centre in Chiang Mai yesterday. During his speech, he said the northern region, with cooperation from residents and state agencies, has reduced the number of hotspots by half this year.

“To keep up the good work, the ministry will apply the lessons learnt from this year’s wildfire and smog prevention operation and set guidance for efforts to reduce hotspots by 20% more for next year,” Mr Silpa-archa said.

Patrol units would monitor illegal burning activities in the forest around the clock by land and air. All agencies were also instructed to look after volunteers who take part in the operation to prevent the accidents.

“Each national park has also been instructed to beware of illegal burning. NGOs and the civic sector are also invited to take part in cultivating an understanding of the value of the forest.”

Mr Silpa-archa also pledged to solve the haze issue that has blanketed 17 northern provinces as the Foreign Affairs Ministry and ASEAN Secretariat coordinate with neighbouring countries seeking a solution.