About Forest fires

About Forest fires

 

Definition

  • Forest fire may be defined as an unclosed and freely spreading combustion that consumes the natural fuels and when a fire burns out of control it is known as Wild Fire.

 

Vulnerability of India

  • The youngest mountain ranges of Himalayas are the most vulnerable stretches of the world susceptible to forest fires.
  • The forests of Western Himalayas are more frequently vulnerable to forest fires as compared to those in Eastern Himalayas.
  • The reason is that the forests of Eastern Himalayas grow in high rain density.

 

Causes of forest fire

  • Environmental causes
    • Largely related to climatic conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells.
    • Friction of bamboos swaying due to high wind velocity.
    • Rolling stones that result in sparks setting off fires in highly inflammable leaf litter on the forest floor.
  • Anthropogenic causes
    • Graziers and gatherers of various forest products starting small fires to obtain good grazing grass as well as to facilitate gathering of minor forest produce.
    • Shifting cultivation (especially in the North-Eastern region of India and inparts of the States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh).
    • The use of fires by villagers to ward off wild animals.
    • Fire lit for Recreation purpose.
    • Fires caused by carelessness of visitors to forests who discard cigarette butts, etc.

 

 

Effects of forest fire

  • Loss of valuable timber resources.
  • Degradation of catchment areas.
  • Loss of biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals.
  • Loss of wildlife habitat and depletion of wildlife.
  • Loss of natural regeneration and reduction in forest cover.
  • Global warming.
  • Loss of carbon sinks resource and increase in percentage of co2 in atmosphere.
  • Change in the microclimate of the area with unhealthy living conditions.
  • Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and production.
  • Ozone layer depletion.
  • Health problems leading to diseases.
  • Loss of livelihood for tribal people and the rural poor, as many of them are directly dependent upon collection of non-timber forest products from forest areas for their livelihood.

 

 

Management of forest fires

  • Precautionary measures:
    • Keep the source of fire or source of ignition separated from combustible and inflammable material.
    • Keep the source of fire under watch and control.
    • Not allow combustible or inflammable material to pile up unnecessarily.
    • To adopt safe practices in areas near forests viz. factories, coalmines, oil stores, chemical plants and even in household kitchens.
  • Prevention measures:Prevention of human-caused fires through education and environmental modification:
    • It includes silviculture activities
    • Engineering works
    • People participation and their education
  • Detection measures:
    • Prompt detection of fires through a well-coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks.
    • Remote sensing technology be given due importance in fire detection.
    • A National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System needs to be developed.
  • Mitigation measures:
    • Fast initial attack measures.
    • Vigorous follow up action.
    • Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

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