Fire management advancement over dry season

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Capacity building and assistance contribute to increased knowledge of fire control

Numerous farmers in the Maya Golden Landscape have adopted the sustainable agricultural practices promoted by Ya’axché. There are still many, however, who are still using the slash-and-burn method, which can often result in escaped wildfires. These fires threaten forests the homes of wildlife, the crops of other farmers and have an impact on their livelihoods, especially those who have planted long-term crops like cacao that require years of growth before yielding fruit.

Ya’axché has worked to develop a fire management program over the last few years, and we consider this past dry season a success! Six members of our staff received training in fire behavior, how to conduct an agricultural burn, and how to suppress a fire. This growth in staff skills has increased our capacity to provide assistance to farmers and respond to escaped fires that threaten the protected areas we manage.

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Farmer for the first time using a dip-torch and this typing of burning technique to prevent escaped fires. | Photo: Maximiliano Caal/Ya’axché

This fire season we assisted seven farmers in conducting controlled agricultural burns on 21 acres. This process involved inspecting the plot and the fire break before the burn to ensure that the plot had been prepared correctly; providing equipment and several staff members; and utilizing our knowledge of fire behavior to coordinate the burn. Through this support, we were able to prevent escaped fires and ensure that the burns were conducted in a safe manner.

We also responded to two escaped fires in the agroforestry concession in Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve and were able to reduce the amount of land and cacao that was burnt.

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Farmers realized that planning a burn is critical for a safe burn. | Map: Maximiliano Caal/Ya’axché

We have made great progress this year in our fire program, and we have plans to build upon this success in the coming years in order to continue reducing the amount of forest loss due to fire.

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