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close this bookSpecial Public Works Programmes - SPWP - Planting Trees - An Illustrated Technical Guide and Training Manual (ILO - UNDP, 1993, 190 p.)
close this folder6. Maintaining plantations
View the document(introduction...)
View the document6.1 Weed control
View the document6.2 Protection from grazing
View the document6.3 Fire prevention
View the document6.4 Protection from insects, diseases and rodents
View the document6.5 Fertilizers
View the document6.6 Replacement planting

6.3 Fire prevention

Bush fires in planted areas are almost always man-made. Fire is used to clear land, to improve grazing and to chase away wild animals. Fires may also be caused by carelessness during charcoal burning and honey collection.

Prevention of fire depends to a great extent on information and extension work. An understanding of the value and benefits of the forest for all members of the community must be reached. Where the plantation to be protected does not belong to individual private owners or to the local community, the interest of the local population can be increased by sharing the produce of the plantation. This can be done in several ways. Local people can be given the right to collect non-wood products like grass, mushrooms, honey, etc. They can also be offered a share of the wood or other products from the plantation. To protect large areas of state forest plantations, local people can be given private wood-lots to form a protective belt around the state forest.

Firebreaks combined with a well designed road system may keep the fire from spreading. Firebreaks consist of corridors about 20 m wide that are kept without vegetation cover. Maintenance of firebreaks is simple but labour intensive. They must be cleared at least once a year at the beginning of the dry season. Controlled grazing or cutting grass for stall-feeding can be used to minimize the amount of flammable dry grasses in the forest. Controlled grazing can also be used for clearing firebreaks.

Plantation staff and peasant association members may be trained in fire control. Small fires might be extinguished with water or plantation tools such as hoes or spades. If a fire has spread over a bigger area, the only practical way to control the fire is to remove flammable fuel from the path of the fire by opening up corridors without vegetation (fire lines). Already existing fire lines such as firebreaks and roads can be enlarged. Large forest fires can be fought with the help of backfire. A backfire is started on a strong fire line and directed towards the main fire. A wide corridor will be burned and when the two fires meet they will die for lack of fuel. Backfiring techniques need a lot of labour and should only be used under the supervision of an experienced fire fighting crew since there is always a danger that the fire can spread away from the back of the fire, starting new main fires.

Fire prevention

Fire prevention depends upon information

Share benefits of the forest


Fire fighting crew