30 Dec 2004

New Caledonia environmentalist seeks penalties over fires

4:52 pm on 30 December 2004

An environmentalist in New Caledonia says harsher penalties are needed for those people who spark fires through carelessness or a lack of awareness of the extreme fire danger facing the territory.

A report from French experts who visited New Caledonia recently to assess the fire situation is awaited urgently but is not expected to lead to improvements for weeks or even months.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of hectares have been burnt recently.

Jean Louis D'Auzon of the Association to Protect Nature in New Caledonia says they've asked for a copy of the French, which is expected to be completed any day, and will use it to pressure politicians to take action.

He says tougher penalites should be part of any future action plan.

"The action we want to do is to have the people who put the fire be more punished. We absolutely need to punish people who put fire."

Jean Louis D'Auzon.