There are no obstacles to stop the will of the personnel of the National Council of Protected Areas of CONAP (as per the Spanish acronym) - Petén Region when fighting forest fires. In order to support its work, this Monday, May 25, CONAP received various supplies and equipment donated by the Government of Germany through the financing of the Selva Maya program, supported by the German Development Bank (KfW) and implemented by IUCN and protected areas entities of Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.
Mexico, May 29, 2020 (IUCN). The CONAP Regional Office in Petén, received 5 motor-scythes, 5 motor-blowers, as well as supplies for this equipment (oils, blades, chains, files, candles, etc.). In addition to alcohol gel and 1,500 masks as personal protective equipment against the COVID-19 pandemic to be used in the field.
"We are fortunate to have people with a lot of experience, committed to their work; the fact of supporting them with equipment and supplies motivates the staff and facilitates their work. The institution has the technical capacity and human resource, it has now been strengthened with equipment, for us it's very valuable", expressed Eng. Fernando Baldizón, current Director of CONAP - Petén Region.
According to the regular monitoring report of the 2020 fire-burning season of the CONAP Monitoring and Evaluation Center (CEMEC as per the Spanish acronym), so far this year, the accumulated value of hot spots has exceeded the averages between 2003 and 2019; which has accelerated the rate of registration significantly, going to a very negative situation, in terms of potential fire areas.
The number and magnitude of the fires triggered the red alert, so crews with personnel from CONAP - Petén Region, in addition to personnel from the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED as per the Spanish acronym), and volunteers, went deep into the Selva Maya emergency. "There has been a will, a valuable collaboration, they have put their best effort and experience," says Walter Mayorga, Technical Coordinator of the CONAP Forest Fire Unit.
According to data from this institution (CONANP), there are various factors that have influenced the increase in fires in the Selva Maya. One of them is the lack of rain and high temperatures; another is represented by problems related to illegal actions in and around protected areas, such as encroachment, wildlife trafficking, among others. A third factor, the topography, as it is mountainous area it is difficult to access, which prevents from containing fires quickly, favouring its expansion.
CONAP Executive Secretary Abraham Estrada, in this regard, indicated that "we are extremely grateful for the donation made by the Selva Maya Natural Resources Project, implemented by IUCN. The fire equipment and supplies to prevent COVID-19, in addition to the support that the project has given us with the application of technologies in the monitoring of forest fires, which comes to strengthen all the actions that we have been executing and the commitment to continue working on the prevention and control of fires, with the aim to safeguard the valuable natural heritage that the protected areas of the Petén department possess”.
The Government of Germany, through the German Development Bank (KfW), supports IUCN and government counterparts, including CONAP, in the implementation of the Selva Maya Natural Resources Protection project with different actions for the prevention of forest fires. Great communication and dissemination efforts have been made to increase citizen awareness, as well as the acquisition of high-quality technological equipment that is directly used in the field to detect and fight fires. In addition, support is provided with supplies and equipment for park ranger and field fighter operations, training, and overflights.
The IUCN’s Acting Regional Director, Ms. Viviana Sánchez Chaves expressed her “satisfaction of being able to support CONAP and the Selva Maya in general through this joint effort with other entities to combat forest fires. This equipment and supplies are essential to support this forest fire fighting strategy. We recognize the joint work and hard work of CONAP, the communities, CONRED, concessionaires, and volunteers. Likewise, the valuable and supportive contribution of the German Government, which has accompanied the conservation and development of the Selva Maya for several decades”.
"These technological tools are important to have a better context and a better location of where problems are occurring, to take appropriate action. Likewise, by having resources and equipment available, actions in the field are strengthened for the control and liquidation of forest fires”, emphasized the Regional Director of CONAP, Petén.
The expansion of the fire has been controlled in spite of the dispersion of efforts for the emergency response of COVID-19, which caused a decrease in the usual support received for prevention and fire control care. This was achieved thanks to the joint work of CONAP with other institutions of the Guatemalan government, the communities and volunteers in the area, with the support and solidarity of the government of Germany.
The fight against forest fires is complemented by the prevention of deforestation, application of ecosystem based adaptation practices, improvement of productive practices and implementation of restoration strategies for the rural landscape; all of the above aiming to improve connectivity among protected areas.
The project also aims to improve the management effectiveness of the Selva Maya protected areas as well as to strengthen the coordination between Belize, Guatemala and Mexico for the conservation and sustainable management of the Selva Maya.
For more information contact: Adriana González, Communication Officer, email@example.com