Cancun: Greater risk of forest fires in Mexico predicted for 2020

The National Water Commission (Conagua) reported abnormally dry conditions for the Yucatan Peninsula, mainly Quintana Roo and Yucatan, which increase the risk of forest fires by 2020.

In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares. Image: NASA
In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares. Image: NASA

According to Mexico's Drought Monitor of last month, the conditions of greatest concern are in the municipalities of central and southern Quintana Roo: Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Jose Maria Morelos, Bacalar, and Othon P. Blanco.

Cristóbal Uc Medina, general director of the Coordination of Peasant Forestry Organizations of Quintana Roo, said that this puts at risk four million 455 thousand hectares of forest in the state, of which three million 773 are considered as forest area.

He said that after last year there were up to nine months of severe drought in some municipalities, and taking into account that this year there has not been much rainfall, weather conditions could favor a drought, which with the arrival of dry north, would lead to a new season of forest fires.

"The cold dries up the vegetation and it becomes the ideal fuel for forest fires," he warned.

In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares.

This 2020 could repeat the same story in protected natural areas, such as the one recorded last year in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

"In Quintana Roo there are 28 decreed natural protected areas, of which 18 are sites of interest to the Federation, and 10, with interference from the state government; however, all are at risk," he insisted.

For the interviewee, the issue is aggravated because the slash-and-burn method continues to be used, whether for agriculture or for livestock. However, the most complicated aspect is that the National Forestry Commission (Conafor) has been disbanded, and it is not known how they will fight the incidents this year.

THE ROBOTS THAT CAN DETECT FOREST FIRES IN MEXICO

At the top of five towers surrounding the Forest of La Primavera, in Jalisco, five robots that at first glance look like simple security cameras, are given the task of meticulously detecting any forest fire incident. These devices belong to the company Robotics Galu, a technological firm that works with forest fire detection systems which foresee that with its use, it could reduce the problem of these incidents.

"We visualized and in fact we did an analysis and with 65 robots approximately we could have an 80% protection of the Valley of Mexico. This we would like to see, this technology applied completely and that is as an insurance for the population and to avoid that it continues to be contaminated," says Fernando Arana, spokesman for Robotics Galu in Forbes Mexico.

Since a few weeks ago, Mexico City and some other regions such as the State of Mexico have been threatened by a wave of forest fires that, apart from consuming hectares of forests and green areas, have triggered environmental contingency warnings by the polluting particles that emanate. However, for the manager, the use of these technological tools could reduce the problems caused by forest disasters.

On what Mexico City and other regions that have been affected by these incidents currently need, Arana mentioned that it is important to know that these robots will solve the detection part, but without the help of society and the authorities, this will not work.

"It is very important to know that this technology solves the part of detection, however, if they do not interact or ignore, they will not attack the fires, there is no commitment to the actions taken by the robot or the detections because the robot is not going to help. On the one hand, it is the commitment of the authorities for the timely attack. At the end of the day, you no longer need to invest in so many attacks resources".

How these robots work

"When we process the detection, we send an alert to civil protection, people from the environment to the people involved, they can check it from their cell phone, from their iPad or monitoring center, this time they gain with this timely detection is It is not the same as a small fire that you only need to send a brigade and it is controlled in half an hour. We have seen that in cases with bigger fires you have an environmental contingency, you have to be fighting with the fire, between two and five days, you have to invest in helicopters, tank trucks, those battles in economic matters are extremely expensive."

These teams are installed in the forest, in the jungle or in the area to be protected, on top of a tower where a study of the area is previously made to see how the coverage will be and what it is going to be observing. . It has small thermal sensors that as soon as they detect a change in the radiation as a fire source, register it immediately. The equipment can detect five kilometers of fire signals. On its cost, Arana mentions that it is variable since it is necessary to first carry out an analysis of the area to see if the infrastructure for its installation exists.

"It's very similar to a normal surveillance camera, what makes it special are the thermal sensors, the software and the algorithms that it has inside, that's why it's a robot and not just a camera, because only as a camera will it show you what you are looking at but does not detect, cannot determine if it is a false alarm or is positive, with our system you can determine the sources of fire and which are not sources of fire".

More countries use them

These robots are installed in six countries which is equivalent to approximately 40 robots installed worldwide. There are in China, Indonesia, South America, among others.

"We also have a robot installed in the Nevado de Toluca, with Probosque, they are the ones who manage the forests on the outskirts of the Valley of Mexico, we approach them as they are very interested in technology, we have been working for a few months. We already have six robots in total, five in La Primavera and one in Nevado, the latter installed at the beginning of April for the fire season, in fact it was the main purpose and right now He has already made his detections and work and we are only waiting for the results and analysis of Probosque".

The company seeks that the authorities and society find in the use of technology a solution so that these losses can be controlled.

By Mexicanist