People, Environment

FRWO Awaits Funds to Fight Wildfires

FRWO Awaits  Funds to Fight WildfiresFRWO Awaits  Funds to Fight Wildfires

The Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization is expected to receive a cash injection to the tune of 2 trillion rials ($5.1 million) to bolster its fight against wildfires, a senior official at the organization said.

Speaking to IRIB News, Colonel Qasem Sabzali, commander of the protection unit at FRWO, said the government will provide the fund for purchasing equipment from the Defense Ministry.

He said the organization is vastly underequipped and short-staffed to protect the 135 million hectares under FRWO's mandate.

"Based on an agreement with the ministry, we're supposed to hire around 500 people a year [to boost the firefighting force]," Sabzali said, adding that the FRWO needs at least 6,500 firefighters. He did not mention the number of firefighters currently employed by the organization.

"We are so understaffed that our firefighters have to double as rangers. This increases response time and reduces efficiency, both of which are key factors in combating wildfires."

Stationing helicopters in 16 vulnerable provinces, equipping firefighters, establishing firefighting staff at the DOE and provincial offices, holding regular meetings on preventive actions and training firefighters in extinguishing forest fires have been repeatedly reported as measures desperately needed by fire extinguishers.

According to the latest report by FRWO, on average, wildfires destroy 15,000 hectares of woodlands every year. The figures show that a total of 1,651 hectares of protected areas perished in the first half of the current Iranian year (started March 20, 2016), signifying a 50% decrease compared with the same period of last year.

About 95% of all wildfires are caused by humans, around 85% of which are accidental.

Wildfires inflict upwards of 3.2 trillion rials ($94 million) in losses every year, according to forestry officials.

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