With the Ska Diköl brigade, the community of Cabagra, in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, is ready to counteract the effect of the highest fire season in the country, which occurs in the first months of the year.
This is according to Rafael Delgado, one of the 15 members of the brigade, formed since 2013 in response to the need to guard the protection zones of springs and to deal with the burnings that are often carried out in this territory.
This brigade – which in Bribri means “water from our lands” – attends to an average of 22 cases per season, for which all members are trained and equipped with equipment such as hoses, capes, helmets, communication radios and monitoring and surveillance equipment.
The team of volunteers also contributes to the protection and conservation of the La Amistad Pacífico Conservation Area, which borders the indigenous territory of Cabagra, as well as to the response to emergencies such as floods, as in the case of storm Nate in 2017.
All this work is carried out by a local emergency committee that coordinates actions concerning risk, disaster prevention and mitigation, local authorities and the Fire Brigade.
The brigade works with the accompaniment of the Association for the Integral Indigenous Development of Cabagra and the National System of Conservation Areas in charge of La Amistad International Park.
“The efforts of the Ska Diköl brigade in fire mitigation and prevention are to be applauded. These volunteers carry out prevention and control tasks to preserve the conservation of these ecosystems, which are vital for Costa Rica to have its enviable percentage of biodiversity, as well as to protect all the inhabitants of this territory,” said Randall Otárola, Vice Minister of the Presidency for Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue.
Protection of springs. One of the brigade’s most important challenges is to protect the Cerro Pelón protection area, where the headwaters of the main aqueduct that supplies the towns of Brisas, Santa Eduviges and Bolas are located.
This site, which is usually the scene of devastating fires, has a wide extension, which requires meticulous work to mitigate the actions of the fire and prevent it from endangering the ecosystem.
Rafael Delgado assures that, thanks to the brigade’s organisational capacity, it has been able to deal with emergency situations that could have ended in catastrophes. “This hill burns constantly and fire activities require a high level of difficulty due to its extension and expansion, but we are prepared to mitigate these situations and give peace of mind to the community,” he says.
About the indigenous territory. The Cabagra indigenous territory is located in the districts of Buenos Aires and Potrero Grande, in the canton of Buenos Aires, Puntarenas province. It was officially created as an Indigenous Territory by Executive Decree N° 13.571-G of 30 April 1982.
It covers an area of 27,860 hectares and is made up of the following communities: Cartago, Mollejones, Yuavin, Santa Elena, Calderón, Bidyan, Las Delicias, San Juan, Ska Dikol, Bajo Brisas, Alto Brisas, Konyuo, Bolas, Las Juntas, Brazo de Oro, San Rafael, Tsane Dikol, Las Palmas, Las Huacas, Santa Teresita, Capri and Palmira. It has a total population of 3,188 inhabitants (1,595 men and 1,593 women).
Cabagra was created by indigenous people from Talamanca who used the mountain range as a transfer zone. With the passing of time, it was made up of the towns known today as Ujarrás, Salitre and Cabagra.