OSCE holds training course in Azerbaijan on wildfire management

The OSCE Office in Baku and the Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA), in co-operation with the Global Fire Monitoring Centre and Azerbaijan's Emergency Situations Ministry launched today a two-day training course on fire management.

Some 35 participants from state agencies dealing with forest fire management are attending the event, which takes place in Gabala, a district in northern Azerbaijan. The training was delivered by experts from Germany, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.

"Due to increasing number of emergencies in the region related to extreme weather and as a result of climate change, expected prolonged droughts, forest fires are expected to occur more often," said Emmanuel Huntzinger, the Head of the Economic and Environmental Unit at the OSCE Office in Baku. "OSCE recognizes the importance of this challenge and through training such as this, enhance Azerbaijan's capacity in wildfire management."

Zahid Hasanov representing the State Fire Protection Service of Azerbaijan's Emergency Situations Ministry said: "The development of dedicated policies and implementation strategies can make forest fire management efforts more effective and efficient. We are committed to strengthen our capacity for co-ordinated response to combat forest fire, and welcome the OSCE's assistance in this regard."

The training course will be followed by a meeting with community members of Gabala on 26 September and a national roundtable meeting on wildfire management on 27 September, which will bring together representatives of all state institutions involved in the management of forest fires, civil society representatives and international organizations who will discuss progress and challenges, targeted policies, as well as regional and international co-operation on fire management in Azerbaijan.

Johann G. Goldammer, Director of the Global Fire Monitoring Centre from Freiburg, Germany, who was one of the trainers, said the upcoming events were important for raising awareness of the wildfire issues.

"Wildfires affecting forests and other lands are causing increasing damages in Azeriabjan," he said. "Many of the fires are spreading from agricultural burnings, which are forbidden by law, but nonetheless still occur. In addition to enhancing the capacities of the municipal fire services and the Ministry in controlling wildfires, attention must be given to raising the awareness of people on the need of fire prevention. Local communities should become primary actors in preventing and even controlling wildfires, especially at their early stages."

This event is a part of a regional project "Phase Three - Enhancing National Capacity on Fire Management and Wildfire Disaster Risk Reduction in the South Caucasus". The project is supported by the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative - a partnership between six organizations - the OSCE, the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, with NATO as an associate partner. Similar training courses were organized under this project in Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. -02D-


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