Gov’t to Toughen Fire Penalties, Boost Forest Protection Measures

Government to Intensify Penalties, Enhance Firefighting Measures

On the International Day of Forests, Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou revealed plans to propose legislative amendments aimed at increasing penalties for arsonists. The announcement was made at Athalassa Park, where the Minister emphasized the government’s commitment to forest conservation and wildfire prevention.

In her statement, Panayiotou highlighted that district administrations have been tasked with clearing wild brush by the end of May, a preventative measure against the spread of wildfires. She underscored the importance of keeping the forestry department well-equipped and ready to respond to emergencies. “Our primary concern is to upgrade the forestry department, maintain it at a high level of operational readiness to respond to forest fires, and strengthen it in terms of infrastructure, new technologies and human resources, as outlined in the governance plan,” she stated.

The Minister also pointed out advancements in technology that have been incorporated into firefighting efforts. This includes the use of drones and electromagnetic methods for fire detection and forest surveillance, funded through national resources and the Recovery and Resilience Plan. She noted the acquisition of new firefighting vehicles and equipment, such as personnel vehicles, fire trucks, excavators, water tankers, and the ongoing process to procure airborne firefighting apparatus.

At a recent coordination meeting presided over by the President of the Republic, additional strategies were discussed to bolster fire prevention and response. One key proposal is to gradually integrate the airborne firefighting unit into the National Guard, enhancing the nation’s capability to combat wildfires. Furthermore, plans are in motion to reopen the forestry college in 2025 and install more sensors for early wildfire detection, reinforcing the country’s civil protection readiness.

wildfire prevention

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