Now satellites to monitor global fires

"The control of these fires has become an issue of high importance, not only because of the increasing number of casualties and the huge area burned but also because of the relation with issues of global interest, like climate change," Pieter van Lierop, FAO forestry officer, was quoted as saying by Xinhua on Thursday.

The Global Fire Information System (GFIMS) would use satellites run by the NASA to find "hotspots" where fires are taking place. The fires would then be mapped online in "near real" time, with just about two-and-a-half hours difference.

It was earlier very difficult for natural resources managers to monitor fires comprehensively by satellite.

"The information was very fragmented because it was gathered from various sources making it unsuitable for precise analysis and identifying trends," said John Latham, FAO senior environment officer in the natural resources management and environment department.

The GFIMS will correct this problem, allowing anyone with an e-mail address to get better and timely images of fires and their progress.Wildfires impact about 350 million hectares of land per year across the globe, according to the FAO. The most recent case is of the wildfires in Russia, which have killed over 50 people so far.

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