Environment & Biodiversity

Uttarakhand Forest Fires

  • Last week, three forest fires were recorded from Uttarakhand’s major forest belts.
  • The gravity of the crisis has compelled the deployment of Indian Air Force soldiers and Mi-17 choppers to perform the essential operation of dousing the flames with the Bambi Bucket Method.

Causes of wildfire:

  • To begin, the most common causes of forest fires in Uttarakhand are prolonged dry weather and a lack of moisture in the woods.
  • Second, the Forest Research Institute (FRI, 2019) reports that human activities cause 95% of forest fires.
  • Common human-caused causes include grazers starting fires on dry grass, slash-and-burn agriculture, unattended campfires, and intentional arson.

Uttarakhand’s Forest Vulnerability:

  • Uttarakhand has a Recorded Forest Area (RFA) of 38,000 sq km, including 26,547 sq km reserved, 9,885 sq km protected, and 1,568 sq km unclassified.
  • Chir Pine trees, which are very combustible and cover large areas, add to the risk of fire.
  • This danger is exacerbated by extended dry spells and excessive biomass buildup.
  • Furthermore, the closeness of communities encourages human activity like forest clearing and grazing. 

Mitigation Strategies

  1. Localized Initiatives: 
  • Controlled burning, biomass clearance, planned burns, and drone-based surveillance are all effective ways to reduce the danger of forest fire.
  • Community interaction and proactive involvement, as seen in Kerala, offer vital insights into forest fire management. 
  1. Government Initiatives:
  • The government has implemented measures such as a satellite-based fire alarm system by the Forest Survey of India to help in early identification and response.
  • Forest personnel use a variety of measures, such as counter-fires and fire beaters, to efficiently confine and manage forest fires. 

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