Land of Leopard in Flames
Since 1996 this is the highest rate.
Among seriously damaged by forest fires was Leopardovyi federal wildlife refuge, key for the rare cat conservation: 15 forest fires covering 11% of its entire area were registered here.
“This year we have decided to define not only borders of burnt plots but also exact location of fire sources, - comments Denis Smirnov, head of Forest program at WWF-Russia’s Amur branch. – Having received such data we managed to overlap them on land users’ map and thus indentify persons and organizations responsible either for fire ignition or for not taking appropriate actions in fire combating”.
Results have shown that fires originated not only in “no-one’s” state reserve lands* or agricultural lands but also on plots of concrete land users. For example, severe fires in Leopardovyi refuge broke out in lands of Agro Khasan Ltd., the biggest across Khasanskii district land owner, and Barabashskii army forestry.
To stop further degradation of leopard’s habitats and turn this process back provincial and district administrations of south-west Primorye have to take two top-priority steps. First, to appoint responsible persons or bodies for fire prevention and suppression on state reserve lands and agricultural lands, and provide funding for these activities. Second, to rest responsibility on land owners and leaseholders for forest fires combating on their plots.
Results of satellite monitoring conducted by WWF in cooperation with non-profit partnership Transparent World** in the frame of WWF’s project on forest restoration in leopard’s habitats were presented at a session of the Khasanskii district administration devoted to preparation for this fall fire season held on October 1 in Slavyanka.
* lands owned by federal or municipal bodies which are not leased by individuals or organizations;
** Transparent World implements programs and projects for the scientific and applied environmental researches, education, design, and tourism using space images.