Arsonists Burn Hundreds Of Protected Hectares

February 20, 2009

More than five intentionally-set forest fires have broken out since Sunday, burning hundreds of hectares of forests and grasslands according to the National Fire Management Program of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET).

Early Wednesday evening, a fire was set in the Cerro las Vueltas Biological Reserve near Cerro de la Muerte, south of San José, burning three hectares before firefighters extinguished the flames. A major humanmade fire burned approximately 370 hectares in Bajos de Olan, near indigenous communities in the Southern Zone region of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

Separate blazes were also started in nature reserves of El Rodeo, near University for Peace in Villa Colón, and Las Tablas, near the border with Panama, affecting a still-undetermined number of hectares. Earlier in the week, at least 65 hectares were affected by flames in Barra Honda National Park, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

Luis Diego Román, coordinator of the firefighting program, speculated that these fires were sparked by angry hunters or farmers, taking revenge for land protection regulations, or to clear land for other uses.

–Alex Leff

 

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