Programas / Incendios Forestales

MITIGACIÓN DE INCENDIOS FORESTALES - EN INGLES.

This Spanish - English translation was carried out by the translator Vongai Christine Mlambo for the PerMondo project, an initiative which provides free translations for NGOs. PerMondo is sponsored and run by the translation agency Mondo Agit. Proofreader: Julia Vasta.

 

MITIGATION OF FOREST FIRES, ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION AND SOCIAL APPROPRIATION OF TERRITORY

INTRODUCTION.


The Cerros Orientales hills of Bogotá, D.C. have been classified by the National Government as a Protected Forest Reserve under Resolution 76 since 1977. The administration of the area is in charge of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (RAC), an entity which also acts as the environmental authority in this region as it is responsible for the rural territory of the Capital District.

In spite of these authorities, the District Administration is looking to invest in the conservation of the Cerros Orientales  of Bogotá D.C. as it is a strategic ecosystem for the city that helps to balance the capital’s environmental conditions. It is for this reason that the program, “Recuperation, rehabilitation and restoration of the fundamental ecological structure and water spaces” exists within the Development Plan “Human Bogotá 2012-2016”, embedded within the structural theme of “A territory faced with climate change and  centered around water.”

Forest fires are one of the main physical disturbances that occur in the Cerros Orientales, negatively impacting the air, water, fauna, flora , soil, landscape and people. Factors that favor the occurrence of forest fires are considered to be those that, due to their properties or potentials, facilitate the initiation or development of fires; they can be of a climatic, topographic, sociocultural and vegetative nature. With regards to this last factor, there are some plants which have a greater flammability when temperatures increase. This is the case withcommon gorse,  pine and eucalyptus plants, which is why it is recommended to control their growth through mitigative measures that minimize vulnerability to fires, especially in the dry season or during El Niño.

Mitigation efforts seek to create a discontinuity in combustible vegetation, such that when forest fires occur, the losses are less and such incidents can be controlled. Specifically, in Bogotá, the control of invasive species like  French broom (Teline monspessulanus) and common gorse (Ulex europaeus) has become a necessary part of the mitigation measures given their high flammability and their equally high invasive potential which alters ecosystems, propagates the loss of biodiversity and creates a latent risk for surrounding ecological communities.

Such a framework was derived from the decision of four entities of the Administration (Environmental District Secretary – EDS, District Institute of Sports and Recreation – DISR, District Institute of Risk Management and Climate Change – DIRMC and the José Celestino Mutis Bogotá Botanical Garden) to sign   associative agreements with the ECOFONDO Corporation in order to sustain actions to mitigate forest fires initiated in 1998 as well as to ecologically rehabilitate some of the areas which were affected by fire.

As a resultbetween December 2012 and February 2016, three association agreements were signed with the purpose of "Pooling together technical, financial and human resources in order to carry out forest fire mitigation efforts, adaptive management and research in areas invaded by common gorse in the Capital District.

The association agreements executed are:

Agreement of Association No. 032 and/or 2097 of 2012

  • Participating Entities: Environmental District Secretary (EDS), the District Institute of Sports and Recreation (DISR), Emergency Response and Prevention Fund (ERPF) and the ECOFONDO Corporation.
  • Period of Execution: December 28, 2012 – June 27, 2013.

Agreement of Association No. EDS 01251 and/or RAC 1018 and/or DISR 2143 of 2013.

  • Participating Entities: Environmental District Secretary (EDS), the District Institute of Sports and Recreation (DISR), the District Institute of Risk Management and Climate Change (DIRMC), the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (RAC), José Celestino Mutis Bogotá Botanical Garden and the ECOFONDO Corporation.
  • Period of Execution: November 19, 2013 - September 18, 2014.

Agreement of Association No. EDS 1526/ RAC 1287/ DISR 2251 of 2014.

  • Participating Entities: Environmental District Secretary (EDS), the District Institute of Sports and Recreation (DISR), the District Institute of Risk Management and Climate Change (DIRMC), the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinarmca (RAC), the José Celestino Mutis Bogotá Botanical Garden and the ECOFONDO Corporation.
  • Period of Execution: January 28, 2015 – February 27, 2016

TECHNICAL RESULTS OF THE INTERVENTIONS.


The agreements have been developed under five lines of action:

1. Intervention in  new areas invaded by an overgrowth of common gorse and French broom plants. This activity set out to control the common gorse and French broom in areas that it had invaded where corrective measures had not yet been used.

In total, 30.5 new hectares of land have been targeted in the following areas:

  • Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera: 5.9 ha.
  • Parque Metropolitano PM7 Arboledas: 15.05 ha.
  • Predio Colegio Monseñor Bernardo Sánchez: 3.65 ha.
  • Parque Vecinal Altos del Virrey I Etapa: 0.6 ha.
  • Predio Ministerio de Defensa: 1.3 ha.
  • Chorro Colorado- Red Ambiental Amigos del Zuque: 0.1 ha.
  • Predio Seminario Padres Pìos Escolapios: 0.8 ha.
  • Tanques los Alpes - land plot EAAB: 3.1 ha.

 

Fotos: Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera. Izquierda situación inicial, derecha después de la intervención.

Fotos: Parque vecinal altos del Virrey 1 etapa. Izquierda situación inicial, derecha después de la intervención.

2. Maintenance of areas invaded by   an overgrowth of common gorse and French broom plants. This activity was established to periodically maintain areas previously attended to in order to guarantee adequate comprehensive management and effective control of invasive species so that the plant would not produce flowers or fruit in the period between each maintenance; in this way the reproduction cycle of the species is successfully disrupted and its seed banks are exhausted. This activity should be done between periods not exceeding 6 months.

     In total, maintenance has been carried out on 41.25 ha in the following            areas:

  • Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera: 5.9 ha.
  • Parque Metropolitano PM7 Arboledas: 15.05 ha.
  • Predio Colegio Monseñor Bernardo Sánchez: 3.65 ha.
  • Parque Vecinal Altos del Virrey I Etapa: 0.6 ha.
  • Predio Ministerio de Defensa: 1.3 ha.
  • Chorro Colorado- Red Ambiental Amigos del Zuque: 0.1 ha.
  • Predio Seminario Padres Pìos Escolapios: 0.8 ha.

 

3. Clearing of roads. The objective of this activity was to keep the banks of some of the roads leading to the eastern hills clear of vegetation so that theycould serve as a line of control guaranteeing discontinuity in combustible, vegetal material when a fire occurs.  This would reduce the speed at which the fire spreads,thus minimizing environmental losses. Additionally, this intervention ensures that vehicles and personnel have access to respond to emergencies.


In total, 5.97 ha of land have been cleared in the following areas:

  • Cerro el Cable: 4.01 ha.
  • Caminos del Helipuerto sector Monumento al Silencio: 0.63 ha.
  • Cerro de Monserrate: 0.3 ha.
  • Cerro del Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe: 1.03 ha.

Fotos: Parque Camino a Ubaque. Izquierda situación inicial, derecha después de la intervención.

4. Forest management and reorganization of vegetal waste. The objective of this activity was to manage and clear exotic forest plantations. To achieve this, pine and acacia needles were cleared away and fallen acacia trees were gathered. All the vegetal waste was deposited in natural gullies or in trenches built by workers.
In total, 18.8 ha have been attended to in the following plantations:

  • Arborizadora Alta: 8.8 ha. – Acacia plantation.
  • Predio Colegio Monseñor Bernardo Sanchez: 5 ha. – Acacia plantation.
  • Camino Santuario de Monserrate: 5 ha. (the right-hand section) – Acacia and pine plantation

Fotos: Camino Santuario de Monserrate. Izquierda situación inicial, derecha después de la intervención.

Fotos: Construcción de Trinchos y manejo de residuos en los mismos.

5. Ecological restoration. Efforts directed towards the restoration of ecosystems have been harmed by the presence of Frenchbroom and common gorse.

The ecological restoration process began on 7.97 ha; 3.27 ha in Parque Metropolitano Arboledas and 4.7 ha in Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera. In total, 12,169 individual plants have been planted.

Final disposal of vegetal waste.

The management and final disposal of invasive plant waste has been done through the process of controlled incineration. In total 1,021.5 tons of common gorse waste has been incinerated.


It is important to note that in the framework of the conventions of Association No. EDS 01251 and/or RAC 1018 and/or DISR 2143 of 2014 and No. EDS 1526/ RAC 1287/ DISR 2251 of 2013, Bogotá Botanical Garden has used common gorse remains for composting and part of the compost produced was applied in the aforementioned plantations.

SOCIAL IMPACT

Strategy for community involvement in the objectives set in the framework of the agreements. The objective of the strategy for community involvementis to involve influential social activists in the area through a participative process that sets out to promote an increased awareness of the environmental impact of common gorse in ecosystems and participation in the the management and eradication of the invasive species, which will help prevent forest fires in the areas of intervention outlined in the agreements.

The actions executed to implement the strategy were:

1. Preparation and Awareness Workshops. The objective for the training process was: To promote a sense of responsibility and commitment to work individually and collectively to prevent forest fires and control the growth of common gorse through training processes that raise awareness of the negative impacts of the plant and the conservation of the environment.
 

2. Meetings were held with the directors of the Communal Action Council, communities and older adult groups of the neighborhoods in areas influenced by theagreements.

3. Taking into account the importance of working with children and young people and wanting to raise awareness around the care and protection of the environment, various workshops were carried out in community homes, elementary schools and youth environmental groups in the community. The result of this work was satisfactory and revealed the high degree of awareness that children and young people have regarding this issue, an attribute that favors their participation in workshops about forest fire prevention and collectivization of the agreements in schools.
 

4. Community days to eradicate common gorse were organized and carried out in areas where the negative impact of this species was evident on an environmental, security and visual level.

5. The execution of a proposal presented by a women’s organization called “Red Ambiental Amigos del Zuque” was supported. This proposal led to actions to help eradicate common gorse and enabled the appropriation of the territory by the community, making the proposal a commitment to conduct regular maintenance. The community recognized the positive effects this had on the improved security and environmental conditions of the area.
 

6. By joining forces, an area of land called “Parque Metropolitano”  which borders the residential groups Metropolitano 1 and 2 and Conjunto Villa Verde was cleared, fostering security, appropriation and participation. This activity was developed in response to the community's request, who felt that there was a problem with insufficient security because of homeless people who took advantage of hiding places created by the common gorse plants and grass to mug neighbors living in the area.
 

7. A children’s story competition was designed and developed to socialize children and raise their awareness about forest fires and in particular about the common gorse's negative impact on ecosystems in the Capital District. In total, 164 children in district schools participated in the contest. An added benefit of this activity is that it provided children with access to a magical world full of experience and knowledge, and that it  turned them into ambassadors of the awareness campaign, which is established fundamentally for the sustainability of the processes already in progress under the agreements
 

8. Clearing and eradication of the common gorse was conducted in the front portion of Chiguaza Elementary School with the objective of providing students with a safe and aesthetically pleasing space. This activity was done by the older students at the schools Monseñor Bernado Sánchez School and IDE Juan Rey . Additionally, a plantation was created in order to raise the students’ and teachers’ awareness about providing consistent care and maintenance to cultivated plants.

 Through these activities, community activists genuinely interested in    participation and advocacy for the structure of public spaces were united    for training as well as for the development of the project in and for the          environment. 

Organizaciones Miembro: