Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou announced on Thursday, the International Day of Forests, that the government will submit amendments by the end of March to tighten penalties for individuals found causing fires.

Speaking at Athalassa Park for the event, she added that district administrations will carry out wild brush clearance by the end of May to combat wildfires.

“Our primary concern is to upgrade the forestry department, maintain it at a high level of operational readiness to respond to forest fires, and strengthen it in terms of infrastructure, new technologies and human resources, as outlined in the governance plan,” she said.

Panayiotou also mentioned that technology has been introduced as part of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, including drones and electromagnetic methods for fire detection and forest surveillance.

She mentioned that through national funds and the Recovery and Resilience Plan, dozens of personnel vehicles, fire trucks, excavators, water tankers, and other firefighting vehicles have been acquired. Additionally, the process for purchasing airborne firefighting equipment is underway.

She added that at a recent coordination meeting at the Presidential Palace, under the President of the Republic, it was decided to implement further measures concerning the prevention and response to fires, as well as the operational readiness for civil protection.

These measures include submitting a plan and proposal to the defence ministry, which calls for the gradual integration of the airborne firefighting unit into the National Guard to improve wildfire combat capabilities.

The reopening of the forestry college in 2025 and the installation of additional sensors for early wildfire detection were also discussed.