People, Environment

Punishment for Forest Arsonists

On average, forest fires inflict losses worth about $85.3 million.On average, forest fires inflict losses worth about $85.3 million.

Those who intentionally start wildfires will serve between three- and five-year prison terms, while those who carelessly cause fire in forests and other protected areas will be imprisoned for between three months and three years, the director of Hunting and Fishing Office at the Department of Environment said.

“The sentences are based on the Islamic Penal Code,” Ali Teymouri was also quoted as saying by IRIB News.

Every year, particularly in summer, wildfires wreak havoc on forests and protected areas, of which the latter is managed by DOE. However, Teymouri said the department’s preemptive measures are paying off.

“In 2014-15, around 6,700 hectares of protected areas under DOE’s management were burnt, but the figure dropped by 70% in 2016-17 to 2,200 hectares,” he said.

DOE’s measures, such as forming rapid response teams in every province, equipping park rangers with fire extinguishers and installing monitoring systems, seem to have helped reduce the damage caused by forest fires.

Teymouri pointed to stationing helicopters in 14 provinces, which has significantly reduced firefighters’ response time and accelerated the process of putting out wildfires.

“In some provinces, firefighting forces can arrive at inaccessible regions within 15 minutes, which is a record for the department,” he said.

Fire sensors have also been installed in strategic locations in certain woodlands with good results, hence more sensors will be installed in the forests of Golestan, Fars, Lorestan and Ilam provinces to ensure early detection of fires and help prevent their spread.

Outlining future measures, the official mentioned holding maneuvers in high-risk regions, including Alborz as well northern and western provinces, raising public awareness, promoting correct ways of setting up camp fires and extinguishing it, and installing more warning signs in vulnerable areas, as efforts helping prevent disaster.

Iran’s arid climate and topography, together with human carelessness, have made the country highly prone to wildfires.

According to forestry officials, 95% of all wildfires in Iran are manmade, 30% of which are intentional. On average, forest fires inflict losses worth about 3.2 trillion rials ($85.3 million).

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