Cyprus sees an average of 162 forest fires each year that burn an around of 2,500 hectares, a news conference heard on Monday, as authorities launched a public awareness campaign.
The head of the forest department, Charalambos Alexandrou, said forest protection would only succeed if the public was aware and cooperates with the authorities.
“Forest protection is a difficult and painful feat,” Alexandrou said.
Each year, Cyprus sees an average 162 forest fires that destroy some 2,500 hectares of flora but also causes human and animal casualties, he added.
Climate change, high temperatures and social factors like people moving from the countryside, make things worse.
The fire service has so far responded to 1,927 cases – not all in forests or the countryside – with 339 in June alone.
The campaign will run from July 15 until October 31 with television and radio spots and flyers distributed to households.
Fire service chief Marcos Trangolas said fires would never cease but the goal was to reduce them through a joint effort.
He urged the public to work with the authorities in preventing fires as climate change created conditions where one spark can be devastating.
“The fire service cannot cope on its own. It needs the public’s cooperation, volunteer groups, but first of all, the cooperation of community councils,” Trangolas said.
Trangolas said each fire that broke out this year has been investigated in cooperation with members of the public who started talking and providing information.