The Lesson from a Nigerian Village On How US Can Manage Its Bushfire Problems

The Lesson from a Nigerian Village On How US Can Manage Its Bushfire Problems

There is something I believe the United States can learn from my Nigerian village: we manage bushfire better. Yes, over the last few years, bushfire has become an epidemic in the western part of the United States. There is hardly any year bushfire does not find ways to distort communities in Oregon, California and other nearby states. I think it is time the U.S. tries something new because its frameworks are not working. I recommend my village as a case study.

In Ovim, Abia state, forest management was NEVER done to prevent bushfire as most experts try to achieve in the U.S. Rather, what villagers do is simple: execute seasonal controlled burns with well orchestrated forest thinning processes which naturally come during farmland fallow cycles. So, during farming rotation, fires are set on farmlands, and they do all to control the spread by creating cut-out paths.

Typically, the village town crier goes around alerting communities the day the fire would be set, and men would be on alert after a path has been defined for the fire cut-out. As the fire burns, they monitor the path and if things get out of hand, they quickly create new paths to cut off the fire.

This is something the U.S. needs to consider. Yes, while we blame global warming and other factors for the increasing bushfires, forest management could be revamped. In most parts of Eastern Nigeria, seasonal bush burning (typically every 4-6 years, tracking fallow cycles) has kept uncontrolled bushfires been under control. The United States should consider that framework in its forest management. 

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