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Apr 28, 2005

Drought worsens; fires are serious threat

Story PictureAn old Bob Dylan song tells us that you don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing…and Belizeans certainly don’t need a television newscast to tell them that the country is in the grip of a nationwide drought. What News Five’s Jacqueline Woods can tell you, however, is how serious the situation is.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
There is no official estimate of how much of the nation?s forest areas has been affected by the severe drought now enveloping Belize, but a drive along the Western Highway offers a first hand look at just how bad it has been.

Osmany Salas, Chief Forest Officer
We don’t know specifically, but we will be looking into it. There is a way to estimate that through the use of satellite imagery to get an idea as to how much has been burnt. So we will be looking at that and when the time is right we will be reporting on it.?

The National Meteorological Service reports that they do not expect any relief from the hot dry weather until the middle of June when the rainy season usually begins. Until that time, Belizeans are being advised to wear light clothing, drink lots of water, and stay away from strenuous physical activities.

In an effort to protect the country?s greenery, Belizeans are being asked to conserve water, take proper care of trash, and by all means avoid the careless lighting of fires and disposal of cigarettes.

Osmany Salas
?We need to be sensitive as Belizeans, as citizens. I think that speaks to the importance of public awareness and educational outreach at a constant level. This is where partnership comes in again, the N.G.O’s, government agencies. This drought has been one of the most severe ones from my understanding. It takes very little to spark a wild fire. Most of the fires that we have been seeing along our highways are have either been started accidentally, maybe lightning, maybe sunlight reflecting off a bottle for instance, but also by people being careless.?

Every year the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Belize Audubon Society, and the Protected Areas Conservation Trust host a fair to raise awareness. The activity targets primary school students who make a pledge to be protectors of the environment. This is one way the environmentalists hope to conserve Belize?s natural resources in the future.

Anna Hoare, Executive Director, B.A.S.
?They are the ones that ultimately will be inheriting this earth and really, this earth is not for us. It is for us right now, but it is important that we leave a good earth for them as well, so it?s important that everybody be educated.?

A mild cold front is expected to near the Yucatan peninsula on Thursday, and while it may not bring rain, it should disperse some of the haze caused by the region?s wildfires. Jacqueline Woods reporting for News Five.

According to the Belize Weather Bureau, some new records were set this week with Barton Creek and Chaa Creek in the Cayo District reporting temperatures of one hundred and six, and one hundred and seven degrees respectively. In Belmopan, residents experienced a record high temperature of one hundred and five degrees on Tuesday. If you are going to the National Agriculture and Trade Show this weekend, don’t forget your hat and water bottle.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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