Firefighters battled 55 blazes in 2008, down from 90 in 2007, the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET) announced this week.
In total, more than 23,000 hectares (about 56,800 acres) burned, about one third of that in national parks and other protected state lands. That’s 9,000 fewer hectares burned than last year, when forest fires scorched more than 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) of Costa Rican territory.
The majority of land affected, however, was not forest, but pastures – about 10,580 hectares (26,000 acres) of pasture land. Just fewer than 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of forest fell victim to fire this year.
Of the 55 fires recorded this year, fought by a total of nearly 950 firefighters and volunteers, 17 were blamed on vandalism and 15 on vengeance. Six were set for hunting purposes, and 19 were caused by farmers burning grass or agricultural crops.
Just two were caused by lightning strikes, and one came from a campfire.