On April 14, 2018, a forest fire in Tamao Zoo was monitored and successfully extinguished, preventing it’s spreading to a wider area with larger induced damages.
Traditionally, the lack of leading-edge forest fire monitoring and reporting system and other drivers often caused late detection of forest fires in Cambodia. Adding the spread of fire often makes it more difficult to pinpoint the exact fire spot, the result also turns out to be the need of more resources to be invested into fire suppression and more damages than when immediate actions were taken.
But it is different this time. The forest fire was soon monitored and action initiated.
A Forest Fire Monitoring and Prevention System (the ‘forest watcher system’ for short) monitored the smoke soon after the fire ignition. It provided clear information on the location of the fire spot, which is actually at the northwestern part of the zoo. With precise information in hand and thanks to the increasing rapidity of communication, the fire managers were able to extinguish the fire, using 2 firefighting vehicles and 3 firefighting apparatus, before it is rampant to a larger area. Mr. Preap Socheat, the fire manager said, “we acted much faster than before”.
Figure 1: Forest fire captured by the forest watcher system
In Cambodia, forest fire is one of the main drivers of forest loss and frequently occurs in deciduous forest during dry seasons from November to April each year. Tamao zoo is no exception. It is a rescue and rehabilitation center for wildlife in Takeo province, covered by 2285 ha of state-owned deciduous regrowth forest area. Locating in a wildland-urban interface makes forest fire prevention here a more significant undertaking. Traditional fire monitoring methods, such as construction of forest fire line and regular patrolling, are in place but often have flaws. One among several is the late detection and as a result, belated fire-fighting actions.
Realizing the urgency to monitor forest fire, APFNet supported the Tamao zoo to establish a forest watcher system. It was completed and started operation on January, 2018. With the help of this system, it is highly predictable that the forest fire will be decreased especially during dry season, reducing potential threats to wildlife habitat protection, biodiversity conservation and promoting sustainable forest management in Cambodia.
Figure 2: Firefighting vehicles used during the operation
The forest watcher system is a reliable high-tech platform that supports a series of fire prevention. It can be left unattended, monitoring in real-time throughout the day. It covers a radius of 15km within 30 minutes and has a target positioning accuracy of within 100 meters. It is highly featured by short patrolling period, fast image recognition, positioning accuracy, real-time data transmission, all-weather monitoring, etc.