About Forest fires
- 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