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NASA image shows how well Costa Rica has prevented forest fires

September 5, 2019

The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) shared a NASA image Thursday that demonstrates the relatively low number of forest fires in Costa Rica compared to other countries in the region.

The image appears to come from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, or FIRMS, which you can explore here.

Although El Niño’s drought effect caused the largest number of forest fires in Costa Rica since 2000, SINAC says “rapid and efficient attention allowed that the impact be controlled.”

“Forest fires are a global problem that affects us all; therefore, the preparation must be constant and countries must allocate more and more resources to face each season,” said President Carlos Alvarado in a statement. “As Costa Ricans, we must be a model of sustainable development.

“Forests, mangroves and wetlands are ecosystems that are there for a reason. They protect us from natural disasters and are part of the identity of our country.”

SINAC credited Costa Rica’s  National Strategy for Integrated Fire Management Plan 2012-2021 — which developed national guidelines to limit the impact of uncontrolled forest fires — as part of the reason for the country’s success.

Despite the Fire Management Plan, some Costa Rican communities rely on volunteer firefighters, such as Bomberos de Nosara, as a first line of defense against wildfires.

And while limiting fires is often a positive, NASA notes that not all of them are bad.

“Fire clears away dead and dying underbrush, which can help restore an ecosystem to good health,” the organization explains.

Humans burn an average of 175 million acres of forest and grassland every year, NASA says and are “by far” the leading cause of fire around the world.

 

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