Collaboration to fight forest fires

Workshop results, March 27, 2012, Saltillo, Coahuila

The 2011 season of forest fires has been one of the most severe since 1998, which was the worst year for forest fires in the 20th century. There were 12,113 fires and 956,936 hectares affected (12% more than in 1998).

Nearly half of the affected area in 2011 was in the State of Coahuila (47.5%), with severe environmental damage and an estimated cost of 325.5 million pesos spent fighting the fires. This caught the attention of national and international news media and raised interest among authorities and the civil society to develop strategies and be prepared to prevent/fight fires. Key actors recognized that for this to happen, it needs to be a project that starts from recognition and articulation of common interests.

For this reason, on March 27, governmental authorities and civil society organizations came together to develop a public-private initiative that promotes protection against forest fires, reduces the damage to natural capital and the population, favors the transition toward fire management, elevates the level of coordination among key actors, promotes ecosystem and economic recovery in Coahuila, and optimizes the resources applied to fire protection, restoration of affected areas, and recovery of economic activities and infrastructure.

As a result of the workshop, an agreement was made to work together in the biological corridor Maderas del Carmen-Ocampo with the objective of developing a dynamic instrument that will guide actions and decision-making of federal authorities (CONAFOR, the National Forest Commision, and CONANP, the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas). This guide will also be used by the Government of the State of Coahuila and civil society organizations to improve technical capacities and local and regional organization for protection against and combat of fires, comprehensive forest fire management, ecological restoration of affected ecosystems, and the recovery of economic and productive activities.

Participants agreed that continuity in the design and comprehensive evaluation of this program will be coordinated by the Secretariat of the Environment of the State of Coahuila, which established work groups and appointed people to facilitate optimal development of the strategic objectives.

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