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Protecting Against Runaway and Illegal Fires

Below: Forest fire fighting training February 2023.

In 2024, the program will continue to support communities to protect their territories from forest fires. Wounaan will, at times, use fire to clear their farms before planting crops. Therefore, they are developing community agreement on best practices, and reviving traditional ones, to reduce the risk of uncontrolled agricultural burns.

But, the greater threat are the fires that are set by illegal loggers and ranchers to clear brush to create pasture. As Panama’s temperatures increase and dry seasons lengthen, the threat of forest fire increases. In February 2023, 24 forest firefighters from Rio Hondo, Rio Platanares and Maje were trained by US Forest Service International Programs Wildland Fire Specialists. The trained firefighters will receive follow-on training in February 2024. The program is also pursuing the integration of the three trained fire brigades into Panama’s volunteer community brigade program.

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