The programme, conducted by forest officials and desuups, will be held next in Paro from Feb. 26 to 27


Disaster: Briefing had just started at the forest fire awareness campaign at the fire station in Thimphu on February 5, when forest officials and volunteers had to rush to contain the fire that started from above Chuzom.

About 50 forest officials and dessups attended the campaign that began from Chuzom up to Kabisa, walking door-to door, educating residents on ways to prevent forest fires.  They distributed messages, posters and dos and don’ts books to households, shops and people on the streets.

Tandin Dorji, head of forest fire management programme, said that the campaign was held every October, but this year it was done in February, because forest fire outbreak occurred mostly between March and April.

“We’ll compare the outbreak incidences and try to see how effective it is to conduct the campaign in different months,” he said. “If we find that the number of incidents is reduced when campaigning in February, then we’ll have campaign twice every year during the forest fire season – once in October and another in February”.

Australian volunteer with the forest fire department, Helen Wositzky, said that more than 90 percent of forest fires are caused through burning agriculture debris or through people burning rubbish.  She said that parents should make sure that their children know about forest fires and their consequences.

“The damage caused by the forest fire will be forever and, if there continues to be so many fires, you could lose all the forests in the country.  So it’s important that communities are careful,” said Wositzky. “If we’re more careful we can make a big difference.”

Forest officials said that every individual must take responsibility to stop forest fire, and should not just leave it to foresters and the armed forces.

Tshering Lhamo, a dessup, said that awareness campaigns during forest fire season were very important. “People know about the effects of forest fire, but they become more alert when campaigns are held, “she said.

The awareness campaign will be held in Paro from February 26 to 27.

The two-day campaign in Thimphu ended yesterday.

By Dechen Tshomo