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Latin America seeks to be better prepared to face forest fires and promote forest restoration

  • CATIE, with support from the Canadian government, offers two courses through which it trains more than 200 people involved in forest management in Latin America.

February 12, 2021. During the first quarter of 2021, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), with support from the Government of Canada, has developed two virtual courses to train people involved in forest management in Latin America, so that the region can be better prepared to face forest fires and promote the restoration of forest landscapes.

First course, entitled Prevention and Control of Forest Fires in Latin America, will run from February 2 to 25, and is taught by experts from Guatemala with more than 20 years of practical experience, with 65 participants (39 men and 26 women) from 13 countries in the region. 

According to Max David Yamauchi, coordinator of both courses, forest fires in Latin America have increased at an alarming rate in recent years. In 2020 alone, the number of fires in the importance of training the people who must deal with these phenomena. the region exceeded those recorded in the previous 10 years. Ecosystems that until recently were considered unaffected by fire have suffered enormous impacts. Therefore, it is important to train the people who must deal with these phenomena. 

 “It is essential to have trained personnel for both forest fire prevention and firefighting, but in addition, knowledge on these issues must be brought to different sectors of society. Therefore, the objective of the course is to provide participants with knowledge and skills that will help them improve the prevention and control of forest fires, in order to safeguard human safety and protect natural resources," said Yamauchi. 

Erika Morales, a course participant who works as a forestry supervisor at Peru's Forest and Wildlife Resources Oversight Agency (OSINFOR, its Spanish acronym), said that the experience of participating in the course has been very nourishing, as it has allowed her to broaden her understanding of forest fires, their nature, origin and propagation mechanisms. "What I am learning is strengthening my skills, these new concepts, prevention strategies and different cases that have occurred in Latin American countries will give us the necessary tools to contribute to the prevention and control of forest fires in our countries," added Morales. 

The second course, entitled Forest Management and Forest Landscape Restoration, began on February 1 and will end on March 12. A total of 138 participants (86 men and 52 women) from 13 countries in the region are taking part in the course. 

 “Tropical forests represent the most complex ecosystems in the world. In addition to possessing a priceless biodiversity, they also offer economic opportunities for populations living within or on the margins of them. Through their management and landscape restoration, we seek to make the rational use of forest resources compatible with their permanent conservation and the consequent reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation. In this way, the forest will generate economically valuable products and at the same time continue to offer a range of environmental services of crucial importance to the communities," said Yamauchi. 

In this sense, the course seeks to strengthen the technical capacities of the participants in the areas of forest management and forest landscape restoration, in order to promote these activities in the face of the challenges of climate change and poverty. 

Caridad Martínez, a Honduran participant in the course, said that the content developed so far has definitely broadened her vision and has awakened her desire to interact at the community level to share new knowledge and strengthen others in the field of forest management and forest landscape restoration. 

"Learning about how to restore forests and any natural environment in the right way that benefits everyone is important. Restoration does not only imply reforestation, the concept is broader and involves a series of processes that arise from practice and observation, taking into account the interests of the people who live in the community," said Martínez. 

Participants in both courses include community leaders, members of non-governmental organizations, public administration, private companies and teachers, among others.

The courses are developed within the framework of the RESTAURaction Project, coordinated by the International Model Forest Network and the Latin American Model Forest Network (RLABM, its Spanish acronym ), based at CATIE, with funding from the Department of Natural Resources of the Government of Canada.


More information:

Róger Villalobos
Latin American Model Forest Network

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Written by:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication

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