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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Forest Fires - Fire! Fire! Not Everywhere!

Article By Nicole La Force

A great truth in this environmental age in which we live is that it is far better to complement natural systems than to manipulate them for single-purpose gain. Through recognition of ecological interrelationships we are better able to manage natural resources for the good of all.
In the forest ecosystem fire can be both an enemy and a friend. How so? Raging forest fires which indiscriminately consume everything in sight causing almost inestimable damage is no friend. We especially have to be careful now that the dry season (cowhem) is here. If it is anything like the drought we experienced in 2010 then we have to be doubly cautious. During this drought burnt hillsides were evident in many places looking quite ghastly.
 However, prescribed forest fires can be quite beneficial and are actually necessary to keep the forest healthy and growing. Prescribed fire is defined as the knowledgeable and controlled application of fire to a specific land area to accomplish planned resource management objectives. Fire management in full partnership with other environmental factors, is necessary for quality land management. Prevention, protection and fire prescribe for ecological benefits are required to meet the demands of future environmental demands. Climate change is one of the major components to be factored in when it comes to forest fire management.
Prescribed burning can be used to reduce material in the forest which would serve as fuel and encourage the spread of wild or uncontrolled forest fires. Such burnings also opens up the very dense forest canopy providing heat and allowing sunlight to penetrate the lower forest level to encourage the germination of otherwise suppressed forest species.
The Forestry Department continues to put measures in place to minimize the threats of wildfires to St. Lucia’s forest especially with the dry season on and who knows how dry it will get! An early warning system is being developed as well as continued establishment of fire lines and use of fire resistant vegetation such as fat poke is being utilized.
 So dear citizens, when you’re driving or walking, don’t fling your cigarette buts carelessly out the window. Better yet quit smoking it’s bad for your health anyway. Don’t throw glass bottles in the dry grass which can focus the sun’s rays and catch fire to dry kindling.

Let’s continue working together to protect our forest which enriches our lives more than we know!