With villages blanketed by a haze, air-borne particles cause respiratory problems. Precautions are being taken.
Bid to extinguish risk of haze: Smoke from forest fires caused severe health problems last year so villagers are taking action by Apinya Wipatayotin
Villagers badly affected by haze from a forest fire last year have put in place measures to prevent a repeat.
Ban Hua Doi is one of 84 villages under the Royal Forest Department's pilot project to increase residents' powers in forest fire control efforts.
Ban Hua Doi head Prasit Thepsing, 61, said many residents suffered severe health problems when the village was blanketed by the haze last year.
Causes of forest fires include the practice by hunters of setting blazes to flush out wild animals, and the scorching of bush to encourage the growth of mushrooms and certain wild vegetables.
The community sees a yearly average of about 30 forest fires.
"We want to avoid an repeat of such a bad experience, so we decided to come up with preventive measures," Mr Prasit said.
Under the department's forest fire control project, villagers would be trained by forestry officials on how to prevent outbreaks. With recommendations from the officials, the villagers have set up a forest fire patrol team, built an observation tower and erected a two-kilometre firebreak to prevent bushfires from spreading from the forest to the village.
The villagers have also made tools for collecting dry leaves, which are major contributors to fire, and using them as fertiliser.
These measures work. We are already in the dry season, but there have been no major forest fire incidents so far," Mr Prasit said.
Kammon Komkai, a 61-year-old villager, said if a fire breaks out, the firewatch team would announce through the community's loudspeaker the need to mobilise residents for a fire-fighting operation.
If it is beyond their capacity [to extinguish the bushfire], we will call for back up from the authorities," Mr Kammon said.
Fewer forest fires would allow wild plants to grow and would bolster water resources, he said.
Pichit Sombatmak, director of Chiang Rai's forest management office, said cooperation between the locals and authorities was key to reducing the impacts of forest fires and resultant hazes.
Last year, the level of small dust particles in the air in this northern province was measured at 272.5 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m) as a result of widespread forest fires. The figure was more than twice the acknowledged safe standard of 120 ug/cu m.
The number of forest fires reported in Chiang Rai province rose from 268 in 2006 to 296 last year, destroying more than 1,500 rai of forest, the Royal Forest Department said.
Adisak Dangskul, chief of Chiang Rai's forest fire control unit, said during the dry season from November to May, villagers were required to inform authorities if they wanted to burn anything on their land.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Bid to extinguish risk of haze, Smoke from forest fires caused severe health problems last year so villagers are taking action, 8/03/2011, Apinya Wipatayotin, link)
forest fire - an uncontrolled fire in a forest that usually burn down large numbers of trees leaving wide areas of blackness (See Wikipedia)
extinguish fire - put out a fire, stop a fire
blanket - cover
haze - water, smoke or dust in the air that makes it difficult to see clearly หมอกควัน
particle - a very small piece of something อนุภาค, ชิ้นหรือส่วนขนาดเล็กมาก
air-borne particles - particles in the air
respiratory - having to do with breathing air into the lungs and using it ซึ่งเหมาะสำหรับหายใจ
precaution - action taken to protect people and things against harm and damage
fire breaks out - fires starts
bushfire - a fire that burns in an area where there are many plants and trees ไฟป่า
outbreak - when a fire starts
setting blazes - starting fires
observation tower - same as "fire lookout tower"
fire lookout tower - an elevated place, often on a mountain, to watch for forest fires (See Wikipedia)
firebreak - a narrow area of land from which all the trees and bushes have been removed in order to prevent fires from spreading from one part of the countryside to another (See Wikipedia)
bid to Y - an attempt to do Y, when people try to achieve goal Y
risk - the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความเสี่ยง
severe - very serious and unpleasant รุนแรง
put in place - create and start using (a new system)
measures - actions taken to deal with a problem มาตราการ
pilot - a small test of a new idea or product or idea before introducing it everywhere
efforts - people trying to accomplish something, achieve a goal ความพยายาม
residents - people who live in an area ผู้อยู่อาศัย, ราษฎรในบริเวณนั้น
flush out - make something come out of some place (here: make wild animals leave the forest and bushes where they are protected and cannot be seen)
wild animals - animals in the forest and jungle (not raised and cared for by humans = domesticated animals)
practice - a way of doing something (that people do regularly) การปฏิบัติ
scorching - 1. burning; 2. extremely hot ร้อนมาก, ซึ่งทำให้แสบร้อน
bush - an area of land with lots of bushes and trees which has never been farmed
encourage - to make someone more likely to do something, or to make something more likely to happen ปลุกใจ
community - the people living in one particular area ชุมชน
patrol - to move regularly around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime or to watch for an enemy ลาดตระเวน
fertiliser - food for plants, a natural or chemical substance which is spread on the land or given to plants, to make plants grow well ปุ๋ย (See Wikipedia)
contribute - help make some event happen
contributor - be one of the people or organizations that help make some event happen
incidents - events which are either unpleasant or unusual เหตุการณ์
loudspeaker - a piece of electrical equipment that allows sounds or voices to be heard loudly at a distance เครื่องกระจายเสียง, ลำโพง
mobilise - 1. (of soldiers, police or other groups of people) to prepare to do something such as fight a war เตรียมกำลังพร้อมรบ, 2. organising a group of people to do something เกณฑ์, รวบรวม, ระดมกำลัง
capacity - the ability to do something ความสามารถในการทำงาน
authorities - government officials เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
wild plants - plants not grown by humans, growing in nature, in the forest or fields
bolster - to make something stronger or more effective ทำให้เข้มแข็ง
resources - things such as water, coal, trees and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากร
water resources - sources of water such as rivers, lakes and streams that can be used by humans
cooperation - work together towards a goal, working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน
locals - people who live in a particular place ชาวบ้าน
key - important คนสำคัญ
impacts - effects on different people and things
widespread - happening or existing in many places, or affecting many people อย่างแพร่หลาย
figure - amount, number, measurement
acknowledged - accepted (by experts or by everyone)
inform authorities - tell the government about what you are going to do or about something that happened
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