17,500 HECTARES OF NEW CALEDONIAN BUSH DESTROYED LAST YEAR

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (February 12, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Some 17,500 hectares (43,750 acres) of bush were destroyed by fire last year, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported.

According to statistics published by the French high commissioner’s civil security department, the figure tripled compared to previous years (around 5,000 hectares in 1999 and 2,500 in 1998). (NOTE: 1 hectare = 2.5 acres)

However, in 1997, the damage also was extreme, when some 21,000 hectares of bush went up in smoke.

Southern province represents 32 per cent of the total bush area destroyed in 2000, with the rest (68 percent) in Northern province, Les Nouvelles noted.

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