The number of forest fires in many cities and provinces has decreased compared with the same period last year thanks to prevention measures, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

So far this year, 42 forest fires have destroyed 151ha of forests in northern areas, according to the ministry. The number of fires was down by a massive 530 compared with last year, and the damaged area was down 2,600ha.

Similarly, there were only five reported cases in the central province of Thanh Hoa , 39 less than last year, although they did destroy 19,200ha.

Le Van Vinh, deputy director of the central province of Binh Dinh's Department of Forest Management, said that local forest management units have focused on managing agricultural land and gardens situated near forests.

In Thanh Hoa, local authorities are on the lookout 24 hours a day and a list of ‘hot spots' known to be vulnerable to forest fires was also compiled, so that flammable materials could be removed.

The southern province of Kien Giang invested in fire prevention equipment and set up watchtowers in forests. It also repaired dams to create a more humid environment and snuff out any potential dangers.

A Green Club was set up in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum to encourage local junior and secondary students to learn more about forest protection, wild animals and forest resources.

However, some cities and provinces are still faced with a number of logistical difficulties.

The Department of Forest Management in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue said that it lacks equipment and some fires were difficult to access due to their remote nature.

Awareness among local residents in some provinces is also limited, with many continuing to use slash and burn farming techniques that risk causing widespread fires.

Some forest managers have also failed to show a sense of responsibility, leading to a lack of adequate measures to cope with the problem.

To improve forest protection efforts, the Department of Forest Management has asked for forest manager subsidies to be increased because the current rate of 300,000 VND (14 USD) per month was too low./.