Why in News?
In recent times there are various instances of the forest fire in India, which has huge consequences.
Regions where forest fires occur in India
- The bulk of forest fires in India happens in the tropical dry forests.
- About 70% of forests in India composed of scrub, grassland, dry and moist deciduous forests.
- Every year in March, forest fires happen in the dry deciduous forests in India, especially in A.P, M.P, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Assam
Causes of forest fires
- Temperature, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere, duration of dry spells, lightning, spontaneous combustion and volcanic eruption.
- The friction of tree branches swaying due to high-velocity wind or rolling stones that causes sparks and ignites fires in leaf litter.
- Arson or open flame, discarded cigarettes, power-line sparks and sparks from equipment.
- Ignition of wildfires through contact with hot rifle-bullet fragments.
- It can also be ignited in shifting cultivation areas such as north-eastern regions and eastern coastal regions.
- It has been estimated that 90% of forest fires in India are man-made, when people enter forests to graze cattle, collect fuelwood, timber and other minor forest produce.
How is policy responsible?
- The main cause of the forest fire crisis is due to the blanket implementation of no-fire forest policy.
- This approach of fire protection is not suitable to the ecology of India’s tropical dry forests.
- For example, the fires in Bandipur Reserve were difficult to control because of sufficient fuel supplied by the invasive species Lantana Camara.
- The no-fire policy was responsible for the spread of Lantana in the first place.
- Regular, low-intensity forest fires could have stopped the spread of Lantana in the past.
- But for now, the future forest fires will be difficult to control until Lantana is physically reduced first.
- Forest fires cause serious health hazards by causing smoke and noxious gases by affecting the local climatic setup.
- They also result in increased CO2 levels and contribute to climate change.
- Loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat affects the ecological setup that may cause problems with other natural resources like drying up of water resources, loss of soil fertility etc.
- Frequent forest fires in forested areas decrease the natural regeneration capacity of the environment.
- Awareness should be created among the villagers residing near the forests with respect to the long-term ill effects of forest fires.
- Measures to prevent forest fires have to be taken before summer season when fires are prevalent.
- Local people should be given skills to use online portals or mobile apps in order to monitor the forests for fires and inform forest authorities regarding the same.
- The government should make available the alternatives for greener pastures.
- Village people should have access to employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities through better connectivity and infrastructure.
- Officers at ground level shall work together with local people to bring a holistic solution
- There are growing instances of frequent fires in the forest regions of India. What do you think are the causes and what measures would you suggest to resolve it?