Forestry Department Concerned Over Bushfire Surge – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Saint Lucia’s Forestry Department is concerned about a spate of bushfires, especially during the current dry season.

Chief Forestry Officer Alwyn Dornelly explained that although his department’s primary mandate is forest reserve management and protection, its interests extend beyond that, including protecting watersheds.

Dornelly spoke Tuesday at a joint news conference that announced Cabinet’s declaration of a water-related emergency in Saint Lucia.

He explained that fires sometimes increase during the dry season, especially when people clear land.

“It becomes even more risky, particularly when it is close to our watersheds,” he stated.

The Chief Forestry Officer noted that intakes lie along watersheds, and man-made factors could contribute to low water intake.

He appealed to the public to desist from setting fires that could get out of control and further destroy the limited vegetation and forests protecting the water catchments and soil.

The Chief Forestry Officer warned that without forests, we would be doomed regarding water supplies .

The Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) has reported a significant surge in bushfire responses throughout the island this year compared to 2023.

From January to the end of April 2024, firefighters battled 287 bushfires, compared to 188 last year.

This year, the severity of the prolonged dry season and the alarming increase in indiscriminate fires to burn rubbish have contributed to the spike.