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Forest fires in Rupununi

A forest fire at the foot of the Kanuku Mountains (Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment photo)

Authorities are monitoring forest fires partly due to a drought in the Rupununi where residents have begun receiving emergency supplies of water.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment says aerial surveillance and satellite imagery show that only leaf litter and dry vegetation are burning.  “However, the fires have not yet been observed consuming mature trees or destroying large tracts of forest,” said the Ministry in a starement.

The fires are occurring in the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains in Region Nine.

“Working with its Region 9 partners, including affected communities and Conservation International, the Ministry has begun monitoring the size, location, direction of movement and speed of the fires,” the ministry added in a statement.

Officials said the first helicopter over-flight conducted on April 9 surveyed the forests, savannahs and mountains around Lethem, Moco Moco, St. Ignatius, Shulinab and Sand Creek villages.

“Slow moving fires were observed in a number of areas surveyed, with the vast majority of the fires moving away from settlements and up the sides of the mountains.

 The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment said it would continue to monitor the movement of the forest fires which are unpredictable and could worsen due to the extended dry conditions in Region 9.

“The data collected, including any relevant satellite imagery, will be used to strengthen the assessments and mitigation efforts currently being undertaken in the area by the Government,” said the ministry.

The Ministry calls on all stakeholders to use caution during this period, particularly as communities begin clearing farmlands, and to work together to address the challenges being faced by these affected Regions. 

Only last week, government announced that the Civil Defence Commission would coordinate relief efforts with other state agencies to rush emergency supplies of water and food to drought-stricken communities in Region Nine and Region One.